It's fair to say there were a number of puzzled faces in the Formula One paddock at Albert Park this afternoon, when European Minardi Cosworth drivers Justin Wilson and Jos Verstappen both pulled into the pit lane at the conclusion of their...
It's fair to say there were a number of puzzled faces in the Formula One paddock at Albert Park this afternoon, when European Minardi Cosworth drivers Justin Wilson and Jos Verstappen both pulled into the pit lane at the conclusion of their "flying laps", thus not completing their final qualifying runs for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix. Senior team personnel took the decision, having studied the new-for-2003 Formula One regulations and carefully considered possible strategies for tomorrow's race. This means the cars will not be held in parc fermé overnight, thus permitting the team's engineers to assess race-day conditions and make final adjustments prior to the beginning of the event. Wilson and Verstappen will now start from 19th and 20th positions on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix.
"We elected not to complete our run on purpose this afternoon. It was a strategic call, and I think a very good one. By not finishing, we start from the back of the grid, but it also means we can continue to work on the cars tonight. We will therefore have the benefit of adjusting the cars to whatever the conditions may be tomorrow."
"It is a strategy we chose to follow. We knew the likelihood was that we would qualify toward the back of the grid anyway, so we concentrated this morning instead on getting a better balance in the chassis with our tyres. We made progress in that area, so we'll see tomorrow how our strategy works out. All in all, an interesting day."
PAUL STODDART, Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth
"Today's qualifying session for the European Minardi Cosworth team was all about strategy. With limited testing -- indeed, only one session for each car prior to Melbourne -- and the sort of reliability issues that are to be expected without the benefit of a winter testing programme, the decision was taken today to start both Minardis from the back of the grid for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix."
"This is to allow the team's mechanics to give us our best possible opportunity to finish the race, but perhaps most importantly, to allow us the latest possible opportunity of assessing the likely race conditions, and thus planning our strategy accordingly. Both Justin and Jos have put in superb performances so far this weekend, bearing in mind their comparative lack of time in the PS03. We are now all looking forward to an enjoyable, season-opening Grand Prix tomorrow."