Australian GP: Minardi race notes

Wilux Minardi Cosworth personnel had something of a torrid time during this year's Australian Grand Prix, as drivers Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner both encountered problems with their cars during the opening Formula One race of the 2004 ...

Wilux Minardi Cosworth personnel had something of a torrid time during this year's Australian Grand Prix, as drivers Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner both encountered problems with their cars during the opening Formula One race of the 2004 season.

The Hungarian driver first experienced difficulties on lap eight, but despite an early pit stop to allow the team to investigate the cause, he was forced to retire from the race on lap 16. The problem was eventually traced to a faulty electronic engine control unit.

Bruni, making his Formula One debut in Melbourne, drove with maturity and assurance, passing four cars on the first lap and then settling down to a consistent race pace. Unfortunately, his car began to lose power on lap 20, after his first pit stop, and despite persevering with the problem through a second stop for fuel and tyres, he eventually had no choice but to call at the pits again on lap 37.

Determined to help get Bruni to the finish of his first Grand Prix if at all possible, the team's technicians succeeded in curing the engine misfire, and the young Italian was able to rejoin the race for the final 10 laps. Having lost too many laps to be classified, Bruni's perseverance in finishing the race nonetheless benefits him in terms of his position in the qualifying order at the next World Championship round, in Malaysia, in two weeks' time.

Gianmaria Bruni:

"It was good for the first 15 laps or so. I made a good start, passing Zsolt, Panis and Klien early on in the first lap, and then Pantano under braking near the end of the lap. At that point, the car and engine felt good, but then, around lap 20, the car started to misfire and lose power. I carried on through one more pit stop, but the problem was getting worse, so the team decided to bring the car in and try to repair it, which they did."

"I then went back out for the last 10 laps. It was a shame because, in the end, we found a good chassis balance for the race, but that is the luck of racing. Despite the problem, I really enjoyed overtaking people who had a lot more power available than me, and it also feels good to have finished my first Grand Prix. Now I'm looking forward to Malaysia."

Zsolt Baumgartner:

"Our basic strategy today was to keep the car on the track and avoid trouble. Things were going well until lap eight, when I started to have a problem with the engine, and after that, I was struggling. I came into the pits a lap early for my first stop to see if the guys could do anything. They tried to fix it, and I went back out, but then the engine stopped altogether on lap 16. It's sad, but up to that point, the car had been going well and my lap times had not been bad."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, Wilux Minardi Cosworth:

"It's sad that we were not able to get both cars home today, but I'm proud of the way the mechanics worked to get Gimmi back out in the race after he encountered a problem. It's fair to say that, because of the way qualifying is now conducted, getting cars to the finish will become a high priority this season, as the qualifying order is determined by your finishing position at the previous race. I'm extremely proud of both our drivers today, although sad that we were not able to deliver the reliability we have strived so hard to achieve."

GIANMARIA BRUNI
Chassis: PS04B/02 (No.20)
Best lap: 1 min 30.161 secs
Position: Not classified

ZSOLT BAUMGARTNER
Chassis: PS04B/01 (No.21)
Best lap: 1 min 30.621 secs
Position: DNF
Spare car: PS04B/04

-minardi-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Gianmaria Bruni , Paul Stoddart , Zsolt Baumgartner
Teams Minardi