Sepang: Team Switzerland Saturday notes

Grid positions 1 and 16 for A1 Team Switzerland in Malaysia Off-track excursion and new rules setback for Neel Jani There were mixed feelings for A1 Team Switzerland after the qualifying sessions for the races at Sepang (Malaysia). Initially,...

Grid positions 1 and 16 for A1 Team Switzerland in Malaysia

Off-track excursion and new rules setback for Neel Jani

There were mixed feelings for A1 Team Switzerland after the qualifying sessions for the races at Sepang (Malaysia). Initially, Neel Jani claimed pole position for the sprint race, but had to make do with 16th place on the grid for the feature race.

Initially, it was business as usual. Jani continued his good form after having been fastest in all four previous qualifyings held at Sepang since 2005. The 25-year old from Berne outpaced second-placed Frenchman Loic Duval by more than half a second. "Neel has shown once more what he is up to", said Swiss team principal Max Welti. And the driver himself wasn't short of a joke: "So now we have seen who is the boss here at Sepang."

In qualifying for the feature race, Jani failed for two reasons. First of all, there was the rule allowing every driver to use the "power boost" for one lap in one of the four qualifying heats, which was in force for the first time. This feature unleashes some 60 additional horsepower by the push of a button. This results into an excess top speed of 10 km/h on the main straight and brings an advantage of about a second on one lap. Contrarily to many others, Jani had already used this in qualifying for the sprint race.

On the other hand, the Swiss made a driving error when it mattered. "In the second sector, I came off the track with two wheels", Jani reported. "It took about four to five corners for the dirty tyres to be all right again and that cost me almost a second. Maybe I had hit a bump earlier on. But without the "push to pass", eighth or ninth place would have been all I could have done anyway."

Neel Jani isn't very positive about the new rule. "It certainly doesn't suit the stronger drivers. When we are allowed to push in qualifying at all, we should be able to do so in both sessions. Now, I have no other option for the feature race but trying to catch up." Mas Welti doesn't rule out scoring points in the feature race either. "The longer race provides more opportunities to overtake other drivers. In the sprint, being 16th on the grid would mean that we wouldn't have a chance at all."

The weather on Sunday is also one of the uncertain factors for the two races at Sepang. At Sepang, it usually rains for a couple of hours from 15.00 h onwards. This would mean that a downpour could occur during the feature race. However, in the last few days it remained dry during the day. That could mean that it is still damp when the sprint starts.

The Swiss car that had to be repaired provisionally before practice on Friday due to clutch and gearbox problems, ran flawless in qualifying. Still, Max Welti considers the car as "not ready for the race". Meanwhile, new parts have been flown in from the UK and will be installed in the night to Sunday.

-credit: switzerland

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Neel Jani , Max Welti