After making smooth progress yesterday in their preparations for the Italian Grand Prix, Minardi Cosworth staff today experienced a decidedly more problematic set of circumstances. Both Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner continued to work on ...
After making smooth progress yesterday in their preparations for the Italian Grand Prix, Minardi Cosworth staff today experienced a decidedly more problematic set of circumstances. Both Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner continued to work on developing a suitable chassis balance for the high-speed, low-downforce requirements of the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
Unfortunately, on his first lap out of the garage at the beginning of the second practice session of the morning, Baumgartner's car was hit by Giorgio Pantano's spinning Jordan as he turned into the Prima Variante. Luckily, the young Hungarian driver emerged unscathed from the heavy impact, but the tub of his Minardi Cosworth PS04B was seriously damaged.
In the intervening two hours between the end of the session and pre-qualifying, there was intense activity in the Minardi garage as mechanics and technicians prepared the spare car for Baumgartner to use in qualifying and completely dismantled the damaged chassis in readiness for building up a replacement.
Impressively, all tasks were completed in time, and Bruni and Baumgartner went on to qualify 19th and 20th for tomorrow's final European round of the 2004 Formula One World Championship.
"The accident this morning was very unfortunate, and I was lucky, as the speed differential between my car and the car that hit me was much higher than at Spa two weeks ago. As for my qualifying run, I locked the brakes up going into the first chicane and slid across the first part of it, losing time in the process. Otherwise, the rest of the lap was better than on the previous run. In any event, I am happy with qualifying today and with the fact I didn't suffer any injuries in the accident."
"My qualifying lap was good and the car felt fine considering the strategy we have adopted for tomorrow, when it may well rain. I didn't make any obvious mistakes on my flying lap and the time was quite good, so I'm very happy with the work we've done today."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, Minardi Cosworth:
"It hasn't been the greatest of days for the Minardi team. Two race weekends in succession, Zsolt was been taken out as a result of someone else's problems. This time, although the accident didn't look as dramatic as the one at Spa, the damage was far more serious, resulting in the total loss of the chassis."
"That's racing, however, and all in all, the team did well to get Zsolt settled in the spare car for qualifying. As for Gimmi, he's had a solid debut at his 'home' Grand Prix. Also on the positive side, it's good to see the encouraging lap times that have been set in preparation for tomorrow's race."
Chassis: switched from PS04B/01 (No.21) to PS04B/03 (spare)
Best lap: 1 min 24.808 secs
Chassis: PS04B/02 (No.20)
Best lap: 1 min 24.940 secs
New spare chassis: PS04B/04