European Minardi Cosworth had its normal busy start to the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, running three chassis during the Friday morning test session -- one each for Jos Verstappen and Nicolas Kiesa, and the third for test driver, Gianmaria Bruni...
European Minardi Cosworth had its normal busy start to the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, running three chassis during the Friday morning test session -- one each for Jos Verstappen and Nicolas Kiesa, and the third for test driver, Gianmaria Bruni -- and working through a full technical programme. The regular race drivers focused their efforts on fine-tuning the handling of their cars, concentrating on carrying out tyre comparison runs and preparing for the afternoon qualifying session, while Bruni's primary task was to assess new aerodynamic components for the European Minardi Cosworth PS03. Come the first qualifying session, and both drivers felt their cars had a good handling balance for coping with the high-speed twists and turns of the 5.859-km Suzuka circuit. In the end, however, experience won through, Verstappen driving an on-the-limit lap of 1 min 34.836 secs, while Kiesa, having his first experience of the demanding Japanese track, recorded a time of 1 min 36.181 secs.
"We did three runs trying different set-ups this morning, and eventually ended up coming back to close to the original. We also did the normal Friday tyre comparisons and on my last run, which should have been the fastest, a Renault blew up in front of me and spoiled the lap. The chassis balance was pretty good right from the start of the morning session, and all in all, I think we did some useful work today. As far as the qualifying run this afternoon was concerned, I think we did a good job with what we had. I was on the harder compound tyre compared with my team mate, as I felt it was the better option in high-speed corners, and this is very much a high-speed circuit. The car was at the maximum, sliding through the corners, and that is as it should be in qualifying."
"It has been a hard day, as this is a difficult circuit to learn. My qualifying lap was okay until I locked up the right front wheel braking for the last chicane and lost quite a bit of time. We made solid progress this morning, however, and we've got a good race car."
"I'm very happy with my first time at Suzuka, which is definitely a tough circuit. We worked on aero-balance and tried a new design of bargeboard, and the programme went well. The chassis balance was good throughout the morning. Later in the session, I tried for a time on a new set of tyres, and although I made a mistake on my second lap, my best time was only 0.1 sec off the best Jos set during the test session, so I was very pleased with that. Overall, I'm very happy with the work we did today."
PAUL STODDART , Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth
"Overall, it was not a bad performance. To have taken a second off last year's qualifying time is more than some other teams achieved today. It's clear, however, that Nicolas needs a little more time to learn the track, but I'm sure tomorrow will see both drivers comfortable with their race cars for Sunday."
Time: 1 min 34.836 secs
Time: 1 min 36.181 secs
Best lap: 1 min 35.695 secs (test session)