To have completed only 15 laps of the demanding 6.968-km Spa circuit in the course of Saturday and to have qualified less than four seconds off the pole position time has to rank as a worthy achievement. That is what KL Minardi Asiatech driver,...
To have completed only 15 laps of the demanding 6.968-km Spa circuit in the course of Saturday and to have qualified less than four seconds off the pole position time has to rank as a worthy achievement. That is what KL Minardi Asiatech driver, Mark Webber, managed today, although he would doubtless have preferred a little more preparation time for the predictably pressurised one-hour qualifying session. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as a cracked hydraulic pipe led to a gear selection problem after only 18 minutes of the day's first 45-minute practice session, necessitating a gearbox change.
That, in turn, meant Webber lost further valuable running time in the second session while repairs were completed. Despite only completing a handful of laps during the morning, though, he ran strongly from the outset of qualifying, a particularly inspired second run producing his fastest lap of the session. Team mate, Anthony Davidson, in only his second Formula One race, again put in an impressively polished and composed performance to complete qualifying only 0.6 sec adrift of Webber.
"I've only done 15 flying laps so far this weekend, with four of those in qualifying, so to have finished up just over three-and-a-half seconds off the pole position time this afternoon is probably not such a bad result. I'm really pleased with the guys, who have worked hard to sort out some technical issues on the car yesterday and today. This is a difficult track for our package, so all in all, to have recovered as well as we have is pleasing."
"Basically, it was quite a fun session in the beginning and every lap I went quicker. We made improvements to the car in the first run and just left it the same for the rest of the session. At the end of the day, though, I am a little bit disappointed to be six-tenths of a second away from Mark. I did get held up quite a lot on the last quick lap I did by Olivier Panis, of all people, but it's just unfortunate - that's the way it goes. My time realistically should have been about four-tenths away, and I would have been happy with that. Anyway, tomorrow is another day and I'm now really looking forward to the race."
PAUL STODDART, Team Principal
"Despite lining up P19 and P20 for tomorrow's Belgian Grand Prix, today was reasonably productive for the KL Minardi Asiatech team. Both drivers experienced mixed fortunes in qualifying, Mark having a brilliant second run, but then suffering from traffic on his subsequent runs, as did Anthony. Considering this was only Anthony's second time in the car and there has not been a chance to carry out any testing, he, too, deserves full marks for a sterling effort. Overall, to be so close to the times of the Saubers and Jordans in qualifying is particularly rewarding. As ever, we look forward to a safe and successful race tomorrow."
THE ASIATECH VIEW
The Asiatech engines showed their customary reliability, helping both KL Minardi Asiatech drivers to qualify for tomorrow's Belgian Grand Prix.
Chassis: PS02/04 (No 23)
Fastest lap: 1 min 47.562secs
Chassis: PS02/03 (No 22)
Fastest lap: 1min 48.170secs