Zandvoort: Team Switzerland qualifying report

Neel Jani on the third row of the grid at Zandvoort On Sunday, Neel Jani will be starting sixth for the first race of the new A1GP season, the sprint race at Zandvoort (Netherlands). As expected, Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen will be on pole ...

Neel Jani on the third row of the grid at Zandvoort

On Sunday, Neel Jani will be starting sixth for the first race of the new A1GP season, the sprint race at Zandvoort (Netherlands). As expected, Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen will be on pole position.

Only 24 hours before qualifying, the Swiss team had to acknowledge that the preparation of the car, of which the chassis had only been delivered on Tuesday, couldn't be finished in time. To ensure that the season opener wouldn't have to take place without the defending champions, Pakistan refrained from its participation in The Netherlands and thankfully made its car available to be run by Switzerland.

"First of all, we are happy that we are allowed to be present here at all", said team principal Max Welti. "Taking into account that we hadn't completed one metre with the car prior to practice on Saturday, we can be happy with our achievement. Of course, the whole thing has cost us some nerves and required a lot of improvisation. In these circumstances, Neel and the team have done a very good job."

Neel Jani is also considering sixth place on the grid as a relatively good result from the one hour qualifying session, that for once only decided on the line-up for the sprint. The grid positions for the subsequent feature race at Zandvoort will be decided by the result of the sprint race. "Unfortunately, I had to abort my final attempt when the red flags were out", said the soon-to-be 25-year old driver from Berne. Qualifying was interrupted after an accident of Australian driver John Martin.

"I was quite fast in the second sector", said Jani. "After qualifying resumed, I couldn't do any better. In these conditions, the tyres are good for fast times for two laps at the most." As usual in the Dutch seaside resort of Zandvoort, 30 km from Amsterdam on the North Sea, there was a high wind which blew a lot of sand onto the track. Moreover, temperatures on Saturday didn't rise beyond twelve degrees.

What is the difference between the new Ferrari, designed by Ferrari, and the Lola-Zytek from the 2007/2008 season? "Driving the car was a completely new feeling. Everything is different, and everything is better. Above all, downforce is much more and as a result, we have more grip. However, my seating position on Saturday was still uncomfortable. For Sunday, we will have a new seat fitted. I am quite confident for the races."

The partnership with Ferrari, that was only agreed upon in October 2007, led to some delays in the delivery of the chassis, which is being built in the UK, and some parts from suppliers. Great Britain, Canada, Mexico and India didn't have their equipment ready for Zandvoort. Like Pakistan, they will be joining the action from the race in Chengdu (China) on the second weekend of November. Compared to last year, the Czech Republic and Germany are no longer there. New entries are Monaco and Korea.

-credit: switzerland

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen , Neel Jani , Max Welti