NEVERS MAGNY-COURS, FRANCE, June 30, 2001 - In stifling heat, European Minardi F1 put in maximum effort during qualifying for tomorrow's French Grand Prix, but frustratingly, drivers Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques had secured only the 21st and...
NEVERS MAGNY-COURS, FRANCE, June 30, 2001 - In stifling heat, European Minardi F1 put in maximum effort during qualifying for tomorrow's French Grand Prix, but frustratingly, drivers Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques had secured only the 21st and 22nd spots on the grid by the end of Saturday's one-hour session. Encouraged by a car that was handling very much to his liking, Alonso unfortunately had his final, and what should have been his fastest run of the afternoon spoiled when he was baulked by Arrows driver, Enrique Bernoldi. By comparison, Marques found himself struggling with an understeering chassis and, although improving his time by 0.6 sec in the course of his four runs, was unable to lift himself off the final row of the grid. Despite the problems, though, the team remains optimistic about its prospects for a good result in the race.
FERNANDO ALONSO Position 21st Fastest lap 1 min 16.039 sec
"I was happy with my car's performance today, which definitely proved to be better than we had expected at the beginning. Everything turned out well. The only reason for me to be a bit disappointed is that my very last run was hampered by Bernoldi just after the team had decided it was the ideal moment for my last run and sent me out on the track. This should have been my quickest lap, but unfortunately, I was forced to slow and, as a result, was not able to improve my time. Apart from that, though, I feel pretty satisfied and am looking forward to the race."
TARSO MARQUES Position 22nd Fastest lap 1 min 16.500 sec
"Compared with the morning session, the balance of my car today changed radically and, as a result, I had too much understeer, which affected the handling of the chassis. We made a few more changes for my last run, and the car did improve, but not enough to allow me to achieve a faster lap time. If we had found a better balance, I feel sure we could have exploited the potential of the car more effectively."
PAUL STODDART, Team Principal, European Minardi F1
"What would otherwise have been a reasonably good qualifying session for European Minardi was marred by an intentional blocking manoeuvre by Arrows and its driver, Enrique Bernoldi, which spoiled Fernando's last run. This was orchestrated by a member of the Arrows team, positioned in the pit lane, who ensured Bernoldi's exit from his garage was timed to perfection. This unsporting behaviour undoubtedly lost Fernando what would have been his best run of the afternoon. As usual, Tarso tried hard, but he struggled with an understeering chassis that we were unable to improve to any significant degree during the course of the day. On a positive note, both cars have run with reassuring reliability so far this weekend, and we intend that this trend should continue in tomorrow's race."