Today's Belgian Grand Prix might best be described as "a gamble that didn't pay off" for the Minardi F1 Team. Drivers Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos started the race from the pit-lane, with Doornbos in the spare car, Albers in his normal...
Today's Belgian Grand Prix might best be described as "a gamble that didn't pay off" for the Minardi F1 Team. Drivers Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos started the race from the pit-lane, with Doornbos in the spare car, Albers in his normal race car, and both on wet-weather tyres.
It was soon apparent that these were not appropriate for the wet, but drying, track surface, and both drivers were called in after just a few laps to have shallow wets (intermediates) fitted. The lap times improved immediately, but on lap 15, Albers reported that second gear was no longer working.
The race then settled into a consistent rhythm for the Minardi duo until approximately half-distance, when both stopped for their second, and what should have been final, pit stops. Albers remained on intermediates, but Doornbos switched to dry tyres, the team gambling that conditions had improved sufficiently for the grooved slicks to work effectively.
Unfortunately, such proved not to be the case, and after an off-course excursion on his out-lap, Doornbos returned to the pits for a fresh set of intermediates. Both drivers then pressed on to the finish, eventually taking 12th and 13th places at the chequered flag.
"I think today we achieved the maximum we could, considering the strategy we had. The race was really difficult on wet tyres, but then with the intermediates fitted, it was okay. Unfortunately, I had no second gear for much of the race, and lost a lot of time shifting up."
"There are four corners on this track where you have to go into second gear and then shift up on the exit, and it was difficult to keep the speed up. Considering the difficult conditions, I think the best aspect of today is that we were able to finish the race, especially for the home crowd."
"Special thanks to my engineer, Laurent Mekies, who helped me to get the maximum possible from today. We couldn't have achieved a better result, taking everything into consideration."
"We were banking on some more rain so we started on full-wets from the pits, but soon discovered it was not the right tyre choice, as the lap times were really slow. Once we were on intermediates, it was not too bad, and we were able to run pretty consistently in the middle segment of the race."
"We had been gambling all weekend, so at the second pit stop, we decided to try the slicks, but it was impossible. I think I lost 60 seconds on one lap alone, so I had to come in and change back to intermediates. It was not the best weekend, and the Spa luck didn't work this time, but we'll aim to go to Brazil now and push hard there."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, Minardi Cosworth:
"We took a gamble today on the rain that didn't come and started on full-wet tyres. From that point onwards, our race was effectively compromised."
"That said, both drivers, and indeed, the whole team, got through a difficult race and a most difficult weekend. Full marks to Tiago for scoring a well-deserved point, and my thanks to the whole Minardi Team, including factory-based staff in Faenza, for their support.
Best lap: 2 min 01.627 secs
Best lap: 2 min 01.148 secs