TIMES TIGHT IN SEPANG Friday practice got off to a tight start for Round Three of the A1GP, racing this weekend at Malaysia's Sepang circuit. A1 Team New Zealand was in the middle of the action, ending up in eighth place in the main practice...
TIMES TIGHT IN SEPANG
Friday practice got off to a tight start for Round Three of the A1GP, racing this weekend at Malaysia's Sepang circuit.
A1 Team New Zealand was in the middle of the action, ending up in eighth place in the main practice session, after running as high as third. Earl Bamber was behind the wheel of Black Beauty for his nation, and remained within half a second of the fastest teams following the one hour practice session.
Earlier in the day, Bamber was even further up the order in the Rookie practice session. Racing in just his second weekend as the lead driver for A1 Team New Zealand, Wanganui's Bamber was third quickest after the Rookie session. Bamber's time was just over half a second off the pace of Team France, with Nicholas Prost, son of four time Formula One World Champion Alain Prost, quickest.
In the main Practice session, Bamber set some strong lap times early on, which placed the young Kiwi as high as third. As fellow nations completed more laps, Bamber was bumped back to an eventual result of eighth place. Great Britain was quickest, with a lap time of 1.50.038 seconds.
Eighth place doesn't necessarily show the true pace of the quick Bamber. Half way through his first lap on a new set of tyres, the red flag was brought out, halting the one hour practice session. This cost Bamber the speed edge that brand new tyres give, and hindered his ultimate chance to set a top lap time.
The feeling of the New Zealand team in Malaysia is positive, as the engineering direction and changes made to Black Beauty improved her performance every time. The top ten nations in the main Practice session were covered by just half a second, and with such a tight margin, Qualifying will be exciting with any one of those teams able to take the Pole Position.
With a further practice session on Saturday morning prior to the all important four ten minute Qualifying sessions, Bamber has one last chance to fine tune the setup of Black Beauty.
An additional change for Qualifying is the 'joker card' of a full lap with the Power Boost which can be used in one of the four qualifying sessions. Each team has the chance to use the Power Boost over an entire lap in one session, which adds an additional element to the teams' strategy.
Normally when drivers use the Power Boost system, the increased power lasts for one straight, until they lift off the throttle for a corner. However for the first time in Sepang, they will have access to increased engine power from 520bhp to 600 bhp for a complete lap.
Final Practice takes place Saturday morning at Sepang, before Qualifying kicks off from 8.45pm New Zealand time.
Earl Bamber, Driver
"We didn't get the best run on new tyres, but I feel we have a really strong car over a race distance"
"We've made a big step forward with the setup of the car. Many of the problems from Chengdu have been sorted."
Colin Giltrap, A1 Team New Zealand Seat Holder
"The car and Earl are in good shape"
"Any one of the top eight are fast enough to be on Pole tomorrow"
John Sears, Team Manager
"Our tyres in the Rookie session were not the best, so Earl battled on to set a strong time given his rubber"
"We'll be right up there come Qualifying, but Earl didn't have a chance to show his true pace as a yellow then red flag came out when he had new tyres on the car"