No need for alarm!
A1 Team France will start from seventh and fourth positions in tomorrow's Sprint and Feature races in the fourth round of the 2007-08 A1GP Championship on the Zuhai circuit in China. The team did not do a lot of running yesterday and took advantage of this morning's free practice to make up some of the time lost and fine-tune its settings.
It accomplished its mission perfectly as Loic Duval set the quickest time in the morning session. Unfortunately, the Frenchman did not have the level of grip he was hoping for in the first part of this afternoon's qualifying when he was on new tyres. He could do no better than seventh despite pushing as hard as he could.
A1 Team France reacted by modifying the car's set-up slightly between the sessions. It was the right decision, and Loic was on the pace straightaway setting the fourth-quickest time in the second part of qualifying. While Loic will have problems making it onto the podium in the Sprint race, his chances of doing so in the Feature event look very promising. On the Sepang circuit in Malaysia three weeks ago, A1 Team France started from fourth place and crossed the line in second position.
Olivier Panis, sporting director: "We were hoping for better things today. Given our performance yesterday and Loic's first place this morning, we reckoned that a front row position in qualifying was on the cards. Unfortunately, the grip level was not what he anticipated when he put on new tyres. We're starting from a bit further back on the grid than we expected, but our pace on worn rubber means that we will be lapping quickly in the race. We're confident for tomorrow."
Loic Duval, driver: "The car's balance was good today although we were unable to get the best out of the new tyres in qualifying. It's rather disappointing, as we could have done better. Nonetheless, we're optimistic. We improved the set-up between the two sessions, and the car's handling was much better by the end of qualifying. What's more, our pace on worn tyres is very good. Our aim will be to score a few points in the first race and then aim for the rostrum in the Feature event. Overtaking will be difficult as the track is very dirty off line. I think there'll be quite a few driver errors and we'll try and take advantage of them."