Well done Neel! Switzerland is on the front row for the sprint race and takes pole for the feature race
Neel Jani, who was on pole in the last event at Sepang with a pole in each of the past three years, continued his domination in Zhuhai winning the pole for the feature race while he is on front row for the sprint race.
In Zhuhai, early this morning it was another sunny day with a 23-24 degrees (C) temperature. The Swiss driver showed the potential of the car in the third practice session. Neel completed 18 laps and clocked a comfortable and very fast time of 1.24.609 (lap 10). Since he was on a quick lap, however, his car slipped in the last corner and he lost a bit of time in sector 3 in the last blind corner. His overall times brought him to fifth place, 0.268' behind fastest of the session, France' Loic Duval. Neel was confident for the qualifying session. In the afternoon, Neel followed through with a front row start for the sprint race and a pole for the feature race.
Under the 2007-2008 regulations, each A1GP Team is limited to one 'flying lap' per session and at the end of the first two sessions the grid is determined. The teams' fastest single lap from either of these first two segments counts towards the sprint race grid slot.
In the warm and sunny conditions at Zhuhai for the first time, there was a large crowd here for qualifying. The fans were packed into the main grandstands and up on the hills. A1 Team Switzerland finished the qualifying for the sprint race in front row, and will be leaving next to Ammermueller, Germany. In Q2, the team improved their time and finished with a stunning time making them the fastest of the Q2 session. The combined result gave Neel Jani pole for the feature race.
Neel Jani commented, "By the time of the third practice, our brake problems from yesterday had being cured. I was able to push to find out the potential of the car and that was a lot better. So in order to improve, we tried different solutions during the third session. I was on my last quick lap, but went off in the last corner. These things happen. I was determined to take another good result for the two qualifying sessions. I had to be careful as the track had become slightly dirty in places where cars ran wide and kicked up dust. In the first session of Q1, Ireland, Germany and China were very quick and finished in 1.23'. I was only 0.456' from the fastest. In the second session of A1, there was a lot of traffic on the track as I left for my hot lap together with USA and China. I made no mistake and I clocked my best time. I wanted to retake pole position for the sprint race but I am the second fastest behind Germany. So, I will be starting from the front row for the sprint race."
"In Q2 for the feature race, it was looking good for a hot lap. In the first outing, I went third behind Ammermueller as Team GB jumped up to second. In the second outing, the battle was between Team Germany and Team India. I managed keeping the top of the sheet. It was a very precise lap, and I was fastest in the three sectors with respectively 27.1, 26.6 and 29.7 thus keeping UK, India, France, Germany and China behind me on the grid. The start will be difficult because of the extremely tight and narrow first corner. It's about 400 to 500m after the start line and cars will already be going to up to 220 -- 230 km/h at that corner. So we will have to be on our toes, be aware and watch for the guys around them. But there will be opportunities to pass and the circuit should provide some great races."
During the qualifying press conference Neel Jani summed-up his session: "We had another great qualifying session -- second for the Sprint race and first for the Feature race - but it's very tight this time and all very close, every little mistake can put you three spots back. I'm very pleased because yesterday we had a lot of brake problems so the team did a great job to get it solved for today. My aim is to win both races tomorrow"
Max Welti, team principal, A1 Team Switzerland commented: " I am very pleased with the result. Neel Jani impressed me so much today. He is so focused and improved constantly on the track. What an excellent team work. The first step is to be starting with a good advantage on this difficult track. Neel Jani, Alexandre Imperatori, our rookie, our engineers and the mechanics did an excellent team work up to now all weekend. What a great qualifying to set us up well for the two races tomorrow."