A combination of luck, clever strategy and atrocious weather conditions saw the European Minardi Cosworth team contemplating the very real possibility of a podium finish in this afternoon's Brazilian Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the hopes of the ...
A combination of luck, clever strategy and atrocious weather conditions saw the European Minardi Cosworth team contemplating the very real possibility of a podium finish in this afternoon's Brazilian Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the hopes of the Faenza squad evaporated when drivers Justin Wilson and Jos Verstappen both spun at the treacherously slippery Turn 3, Wilson on lap 15 and Verstappen on lap 31.
There was drama before the start in the Minardi garage, when Verstappen encountered a problem with his car on the formation lap and was rapidly switched to the spare chassis. This meant the he had to start from the pit lane, but as the car was on wet suspension settings and carrying a full fuel load, a potential "negative" was turned into a "positive", as the race start behind the Safety Car meant that Verstappen was quickly able to catch up with the field. With sufficient fuel on board to run non-stop in the race given a number of Safety Car interventions, he had climbed to sixth place just before sliding off the slick track.
Wilson, by comparison, was on a one-stop strategy for fuel and tyres, and after yet another storming start, had battled his way up to an excellent 12th place before his incident. He, too, looked to have been on his way to a points finish at Interlagos. Despite the bad luck in Brazil, however, the team was heartened by the news that its official tester, Matteo Bobbi, and team mate, Thomas Biaggi, won today's opening round of the FIA GT Championship, at Barcelona, driving a Ferrari 550.
"The track conditions in today's race were very, very difficult and, of course, I'm extremely disappointed not to have finished today, especially when we don't have so many opportunities to score points. This was definitely a race where there was an excellent possibility. When Raikkonen passed me in Turn 1, I was running behind him in the spray with virtually no vision. The car just spun very quickly two corners later, in Turn 3. I feel extremely sorry for Paul and the whole team, but that's life and that's racing."
"I'm gutted. I was just caught out by the rivers running down the grass and across the track in Turn 3. They never seemed to be in the same place on two consecutive laps. On the lap I spun, I had got through the first river, but then acquaplaned off on the second one. It's a huge disappointment, because we were definitely on for a strong finish today."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth
"Today saw possibly the first time ever that Minardi was potentially in a genuine, race-winning position. Many people may laugh, but only those of us within the team will ever know the truth. We had the strategy, but not the luck."
JOS VERSTAPPEN: DNF
Chassis: (No 19) : PS03/01
(raced spare chassis): PS03/02
JUSTIN WILSON: DNF
Chassis: (No 18): PS03/04