Promising performance from Pakistan in China
A1 Team Pakistan took part in final practice and qualifying for the fourth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport today, at the Zhuhai International Circuit in China. In an immensely close and competitive session, Adam Khan qualified 21st for the Sprint race and 17th for the Feature race.
Under sunny skies, the team took to the track for the one hour practice session. Following a brake problem on Friday, the team bedded in new brakes this morning in preparation for the all important qualifying sessions. Despite improvements under braking, the team were unable to push in the final stages of practice due to badly worn tyres and a front left puncture.
Taking the opportunity to study data before the qualifying sessions, the team made a few set-up changes to the car. Under the A1GP qualifying system, each team completes one flying lap in four qualifying segments. The fastest lap from the first two segments sets the team's position for the Sprint race, while the fastest lap from the second two segments sets the grid slot for the Feature race.
The third car out on track in the first qualifying segment, Adam Khan was pushing hard to set a quick time on new tyres and ran wide at the final corner. Despite this, Khan's efforts were sufficient to beat the bench mark time of the Australian car. After all 22 cars had set their fastest times, Pakistan lay 17th on the time sheet. Unable to improve in the second segment, Pakistan dropped to 21st - the position the team would take for the 20 minute Sprint race.
Pushing hard to claim a good grid position for the Feature race, Khan put in a stunning lap in the third qualifying segment to improve his time by 1.5 seconds to beat India by just over a tenth of a second. With one more flying lap to go, Pakistan was provisionally sixth on the Feature race grid. Pushing himself and the A1GP car to the limit in an effort to maintain a top six position, Khan again ran wide at the last corner and could not improve his time. After the 22 nations had set their final flying lap, Pakistan lay 17th, the team's starting position for the Feature race.
Reflecting on his qualifying performance, A1 Team Pakistan driver Adam Khan said, "We've managed to resolve some of the problems we've had with the car, I think at one point we were up to sixth. It's so close here, just one mistake can make a huge difference and put you down the order. Unfortunately in the last session I made a mistake at the final corner and ran wide, and up to that point that lap was actually my quickest. I made a mistake and I'll learn from that, but it was the last chance to improve our grid slot and if you don't try and put everything into it, you will never succeed. In all honesty, there was the opportunity to qualify in the top ten today, but at least we know the car has the pace now to be up there challenging for points."
A1 Team Pakistan engineer Andrew Miller added, "We made a few changes before qualifying and again before the second qualifying session, which seemed to help. Adam was pushing very hard out there today and unfortunately made a mistake on the final qualifying lap. He could have been about two tenths quicker, which would have put us in the top ten Adam feels comfortable in the car however, and I think we have a good chance of making up places tomorrow."
A1 Team Pakistan will return to the track for the Sprint race tomorrow at 13.00 local time. The weekend will conclude with the 70 minute Feature race at 15.00.