During today's free practice sessions for the 2005 Belgian Grand Prix, the ever-unpredictable Spa-Francorchamps circuit served up a taster of the sort of challenges it is capable of throwing down. After overnight thunderstorms, drivers had to ...
During today's free practice sessions for the 2005 Belgian Grand Prix, the ever-unpredictable Spa-Francorchamps circuit served up a taster of the sort of challenges it is capable of throwing down. After overnight thunderstorms, drivers had to contend with a wet, but drying, track surface in the morning, before the rain returned with a vengeance and effectively washed out the second session.
Minardi F1 Team drivers Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos, plus Friday tester, Enrico Toccacelo, all managed to do some useful running during the morning, although Albers and Toccacelo both experienced spins. Unfortunately, the latter's led to a brush with the barriers that brought his session to a premature end.
Doornbos ventured out early in the second session, but reported that the circuit was "like a swimming pool" in places. With the rain falling heavily, the team decided the risks attached to running cars in the conditions outweighed anything that might be learned. The result after Day 1 of the Belgian GP weekend: Spa 1, F1 teams 0.
"After we saw how the track was this morning, we decided to change our programme and convert to one long run close to the end of session, when hopefully, conditions would be at their best. It turned out to be a good strategy."
"The car was working really well, and right from the beginning of the run, I was able to able to push hard. It's a shame the second session was rained out, but if the work we did today is any indication, then I think we can be hopeful of a good qualifying performance tomorrow."
"I did a rain dance this morning, because I had a very good race in the wet last year when I won in F3000, but I didn't expect this much rain. I'm sorry for the fans, and particularly the Dutch supporters, as it would have been great to get some running in this afternoon, but it was just too wet."
"I went out and saw that Tonio, my team mate from last year, had had a big moment at the end of the straight -- there was just too much water. We've had a quiet day, so let's hope tomorrow we can do some more running."
"I'm a little disappointed, as I made a mistake after just two laps when I braked, locked the rear wheels and spun, ending the session there. It's a shame, because I was really looking forward to testing here. Unfortunately, the rain fell heavily in the second session and there wasn't a chance to do any further testing."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, Minardi Cosworth:
"In a rain-affected Spa-Francorchamps, we started this morning's session on a damp, but drying, track. Sadly, Enrico was caught out and had a close encounter with the famous Spa barriers."
"In terms of Christijan and Robert, they developed their cars and set very respectable times. They were hoping to improve in the second session, but after Robert's installation lap, it was clear the track was too wet to continue, so we'll now have to wait until tomorrow."
Best lap: 1 min 53.807 secs
Best lap: 1 min 54.973 secs
Best lap: 2 min 02.502 secs