Unlike yesterday, when the first day of preparations for Sunday's French Grand Prix was affected to a significant extent by highly volatile weather conditions, today remained largely overcast, but dry, thus effectively putting paid to any...
Unlike yesterday, when the first day of preparations for Sunday's French Grand Prix was affected to a significant extent by highly volatile weather conditions, today remained largely overcast, but dry, thus effectively putting paid to any realistic chance European Minardi Cosworth had of retaining the memorable "provisional" pole position set by Jos Verstappen.
There was drama in the Minardi garage just before the final qualifying session commenced, as Justin Wilson, who was the first competitor due out on track as the result of having his Friday qualifying time disallowed, suffered a broken driveshaft on his car in the 15-minute warm-up session. The team rapidly switched the spare car over for the Englishman to use, and he rewarded their efforts with an impressive run in the unfamiliar car, recording a credible lap time of 1 min 19.619 secs.
On the strength of yesterday's fine performance, Verstappen was the final driver to qualify today. Despite a valiant effort, though, his lap of 1 min 18.899 secs was only good enough for 19th place. Nonetheless, the team has been highly encouraged by the events of this weekend, and is looking forward to a competitive performance in tomorrow's French Grand Prix.
"It's back to reality today, but we knew that was always going to be the case. I was pleased with the lap I did. I drove on the limit, there weren't any mistakes, and I'm happy with the result."
"It was a bit hectic just before qualifying, when I had to jump into the T-car, which was set up for Jos. The important thing, though, was that we got a lap in, as yesterday's didn't count. I was told not to be too concerned with the lap time and just ensure that we qualified for tomorrow's race, which is what I did. Now we'll see what happens tomorrow."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth:
"It's not a surprise that the euphoria of yesterday didn't continue today; however, whatever happens, no one can take those magic moments away from the Minardi team when we were P1, and almost P2, in Friday's original qualifying session. Rather than in any way being sad, the team is quite upbeat about today's performance, and particularly impressed that we're only a few tenths off the Jordan and within reach of the Saubers. All in all, it has been a good weekend so far for European Minardi, and wouldn't it be nice if we could take a point home from tomorrow's race?"
Time: 1 min 18.899 secs
Time: 1 min 19.454 secs
Spare car (Verstappen) PS03/02 - used by Wilson in final qualifying