Come the end of a German Grand Prix run in blistering heat -- the track temperature was 49 deg C immediately before the start of the race -- European Minardi Cosworth personnel had reason to be both pleased and disappointed. Pleased because newly...
Come the end of a German Grand Prix run in blistering heat -- the track temperature was 49 deg C immediately before the start of the race -- European Minardi Cosworth personnel had reason to be both pleased and disappointed. Pleased because newly signed Danish driver, Nicolas Kiesa, made an assured Formula One debut in the gruelling conditions, finishing his first Grand Prix in 12th place, but disappointed because team mate, Jos Verstappen, was forced to retire his car from the race on lap 24.
Both drivers avoided the first-lap accident that necessitated the deployment of the Safety Car, but then used the opportunity to make quick pit stops to take on additional fuel. Verstappen then pressed on, despite a particularly bad vibration from his flat-spotted front tyres. Unfortunately, falling hydraulic pressure forced the Dutch driver out of the race immediately after his second stop. By comparison, Kiesa, who was on the softer compound Bridgestone tyre available, had an untroubled race, making three stops on his way to the chequered flag.
"For quite a lot of the race, I was out there on my own, with no other cars around, and that can be quite hard. You haven't got anyone to judge your pace against, and you find your self pushing a bit harder and a bit harder, to the point where it would be easy to lose concentration and make a mistake. It was definitely a hard race, but I'm relieved to have my first Grand Prix behind me. I now know what to expect, which will definitely help me in the future. As for the car, it was good for the first four or five laps of each stint, but then the handling started to degrade and I found myself grappling with quite a lot of oversteer. I'd particularly like to thank everyone on the team, though, for making my Formula One debut a really good experience."
"I got a reasonably good start, and then saw the accident happening ahead of me and was able to avoid it, although I did flat-spot my front tyres. The Safety Car helped us, as I was able to come into the pits and refuel the car. After that, the vibration from the tyres was so bad it was hard to see, so I was really pleased to come in for my scheduled stop on lap 24 and change them. I had a problem with the down change just before the stop, and then it was difficult to engage first gear leaving the pits. Unfortunately, it seems we had a hydraulic pressure problem and that caused the car to stop. It's very disappointing, but that's racing."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth:
"What a way to start your Formula One career! Full credit to Nicolas for pressing on to the end on a day when all drivers were struggling with their tyres. He showed true grit and determination and had a really responsible attitude to being lapped, especially near the end, when six leading cars came through racing for position -- it was a truly professional performance. By comparison, it was hard luck for Jos today. Unfortunately, a hydraulic problem brought his race to a premature end. We now look forward to Hungary in three weeks' time."
Best lap 1 min 20.171 secs
Best lap 1 min 20.399 secs
Position DNF (25 laps)