The rain began 90 minutes into Friday morning's two-hour test session and went on to dominate the opening day of preparations for this Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix. European Minardi Cosworth drivers Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson splashed...
The rain began 90 minutes into Friday morning's two-hour test session and went on to dominate the opening day of preparations for this Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix. European Minardi Cosworth drivers Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson splashed around the 4.292-km Autodromo José Carlos Pace circuit near Sao Paulo, recording the 15th and 19th fastest lap times respectively during their "one-shot" qualifying runs in the treacherously slippery conditions.
Verstappen's lap was a typical, on-the-limit effort, while Wilson's excellent run clearly demonstrated that the British driver has made a quick recovery from the shoulder injury he sustained in the recent Malaysian Grand Prix. The European Minardi chassis being used in Brazil this weekend are fitted with the latest Sabelt six-point seat belts, incorporating a "Y-belt" system and cushioning air bag, intended to make the driver more comfortable in the cockpit when wearing the HANS device. The weather forecast suggests there may be more rain in store for the Sao Paulo area Saturday. If that turns out to be the case, today's 90 minutes of testing time on a dry track may turn out to be invaluable for the Faenza-based team.
"I didn't drive many laps this morning because the track was just too wet for much of the time, but that qualifying run was definitely on the limit. The car was really sliding around in what were very difficult conditions. I'm happy with the lap time and also with the work we have done today. We worked on set-up this morning in the dry conditions and know pretty much which way we need to go."
"It was definitely pretty tricky out there this afternoon, particularly on the new sections of tarmac - in fact, I nearly lost it at the start-finish line on the warm-up lap. The situation wasn't made any easier by the fact that the red flag brought out by Pizzonia's crash in the morning practice session prevented me from doing a lap of the circuit in the wet before this afternoon's qualifying session. I used the 'out' lap for my qualifying run just to try and learn what the track conditions were like. All in all, it wasn't a great result, but it was the best we could do today given the circumstances. We'll look to improve tomorrow."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth:
"Today produced yet another exciting qualifying session and our hearty congratulations go to Mark Webber and Jaguar for what was a stunning lap. Both Justin and Jos completed a useful day's running and were able to work on their chassis settings in the morning test session. Both drivers completed their first qualifying runs without incident and we look forward to an interesting final qualifying session tomorrow afternoon."
Chassis: (No 19) PS03/01
Best lap: 1 min 26.886 secs
Chassis: (No 18) PS03/04
Best lap 1 min 28.317 secs