The focus for European Minardi Cosworth drivers, Jos Verstappen and new recruit, Nicolas Kiesa, today switched to preparations for this afternoon's final qualifying session and Sunday's German Grand Prix. This meant the cars were running...
The focus for European Minardi Cosworth drivers, Jos Verstappen and new recruit, Nicolas Kiesa, today switched to preparations for this afternoon's final qualifying session and Sunday's German Grand Prix. This meant the cars were running race-stint fuel loads with longer runs the order of the day in order to check tyre degradation and fuel consumption. The high ambient temperatures prevailing in this part of Germany also ensured a liberal dose of on-track incidents during the morning sessions.
Unfortunately, Minardi's young Danish driver was one of those involved, as his car spun into the barriers at turn 12 with only six minutes of the second morning session gone. He nonetheless recovered impressively, and despite the reduced seat time, drove a coolly controlled lap in his first Formula One qualifying session, to set a time within 0.15 secs of his team mate.
Taking into consideration the high track temperature -- 46 deg C at the start of the qualifying session -- Verstappen elected to go with the harder compound tyre available from Bridgestone, reasoning that although it might not be the optimum choice for an outright qualifying run, it would be a better choice in terms of race strategy. His hard-charging efforts netted him P19 on the grid for tomorrow's race with Kiesa starting his first Grand Prix from P20.
"I chose the harder compound tyre on offer because this morning we tried both compounds and the softer tyre ended up developing blisters. As a result of going with the harder tyre, we suffered a slight penalty in terms of our qualifying lap time, but we still managed to go as fast as on the hard tyres this afternoon as we did on the softer ones this morning. The car was reasonably well balanced for the qualifying run, and although the grip was good in the first sector of the lap, we were definitely losing grip over the remaining sectors. If we have heat like this tomorrow, then I think the race will be very interesting, bearing in mind the number of spins and incidents we had today. The main thing will be to bring the cars home."
"At the corner just coming into the Mercedes stadium, I was slightly early on the brakes, and that's where I lost most of my time on the qualifying lap. The car was definitely better than me today -- I'm just not experienced enough yet with F1 performance to get to the limit of the car in qualifying. On the one hand, I was very conscious that I needed to set a time after yesterday's qualifying problem, and on the other, I wanted to get as near to Jos's time as I could. In the end, I was nearer than I thought I might have been."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth:
"In a day of somewhat mixed fortunes, Nicolas had an off this morning, which prevented him from taking part in the second free practice session. Despite this, he set a very creditable time in qualifying. Considering his lack of time in the car, I think it was a valiant effort. Jos, as usual, completed his full programme during the sessions and recorded the 19th fastest time, but with a fuel load that could put him in a good position for tomorrow's race."
Time: 1 min 19.023 secs
Time: 1 min 19.174 secs