SPA FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIUM, September 2, 2001 -- European Minardi F1 driver, Tarso Marques, grappled with a punctured tyre and handling difficulties during today's Belgian Grand Prix, but persevered to take the chequered flag in 13th place. Team...
SPA FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIUM, September 2, 2001 -- European Minardi F1 driver, Tarso Marques, grappled with a punctured tyre and handling difficulties during today's Belgian Grand Prix, but persevered to take the chequered flag in 13th place. Team mate, Fernando Alonso, shrugged off a major crash in Sunday morning warm-up when his car left the track at high speed and made heavy contact with trackside barriers at the Blanchimont corner. A superb effort by his mechanics saw them build up a complete new car for the young Spaniard between warm-up and the race. Unfortunately, their toil was in vain as a suspected gearbox problem forced Alonso to retire on only the third lap of the "first" race, this year's Belgian Grand Prix effectively consisting of two races in one. The first was halted after six laps following a frighteningly violent accident that befell Prost driver, Luciano Burti. The event also marked Tarso Marques' last race of the season for the team, as Alex Yoong will replace him for the final three rounds of this year's Championship.
"This was a tough race. I had to pit before the red flag after a tyre was cut, perhaps by some of the debris from the accident, and then some sort of suspension problem developed, which I stopped to have checked. It's a shame because the balance of the car was good and, without the difficulties, we could have had a better result. Nonetheless, I would like to say a big thank you to European Minardi. Despite this season being a bit of a struggle at times, I have enjoyed my time with them this year very much."
"What can I say? I feel so sad because I was terribly unfortunate here at Spa, which is my favourite track. This morning, I had an excellent warm-up. The set-up was perfect, I had a very good feeling for the car, and I put in the 15th fastest time just a few minutes before the end of the session. The accident on my final lap was certainly a spectacular one, but luckily I was unhurt, even if my car was seriously damaged. It is a shame but, after only three laps in the race, I was no longer able to select gears."
"It turned out to be an action-packed Spa afternoon that saw two races with mixed results for a number of teams. Unfortunately, Fernando retired on the third lap of the first race with what looks like a gearbox problem, while Tarso must now hold the European Minardi record for the most number of race pit stops -- four -- in the course of the afternoon. Nonetheless, he pressed on and finished 13th, which was a good effort. On behalf of all at European Minardi, we sincerely thank Tarso for a fantastic effort in what has been a difficult year. We're very pleased he will be staying with us as test and reserve driver for the remainder of the season."