MONACO, MONTE CARLO, May 26, 2001 -- Spectators watching today's Monaco GP qualifying action from the sun-drenched decks of yachts bobbing in the harbour of the world's most famous Principality may have been striving to look unutterably cool, but...
MONACO, MONTE CARLO, May 26, 2001 -- Spectators watching today's Monaco GP qualifying action from the sun-drenched decks of yachts bobbing in the harbour of the world's most famous Principality may have been striving to look unutterably cool, but the on-track activity was decidedly hot. On an unforgiving circuit that, over the years, has claimed the "scalps" of many experienced competitors, the youthful pairing of Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques displayed great maturity to secure 18th and 22nd places on the grid for European Minardi F1 in tomorrow's blue-riband event. It also marked the fourth time in six races that Alonso has qualified 18th in this, his first season of Grand Prix racing. Marques struggled to find a satisfactory chassis balance throughout the day, his efforts hampered by reportedly strong understeer in slow-to-medium-speed corners. Interestingly, Alonso's time was a full three seconds faster than that recorded by the top-qualifying Minardi in last year's Monaco Grand Prix race.
"Today we were a bit concerned after Thursday's less-than-satisfactory performance. This morning, though, we realised immediately that the car was not feeling that bad. Since the first session I was able to put in some lap times that were close to those of the mid-field runners. I was therefore looking forward to my qualifying session, which ended in a favourable 18th place for the fourth consecutive time this season, and I feel very happy with it. We didn't even make too many changes to the set-up of the car -- we just tried to push hard to get the best out of the last run, and the strategy worked well."
"I really tried to drive the car hard today because the engine seemed very slow compared with Fernando's. In addition, I suffered from huge understeer during the whole session, and we are still trying to find the reason for this. We made a few changes to the car during the session, but the understeer was still there. I really just couldn't have gone any faster as the car was set up -- that was it!"
PAUL STODDART, Team Principal, European Minardi F1
"This was an altogether much better day for the team. On a hot, sunny Monaco afternoon, European Minardi F1 yet again put in a strong performance, Fernando out-qualifying both Arrows and one of the Prosts to put himself in good shape for tomorrow's race. Tarso, while remaining 22nd, drove a solid qualifying session and improved his time significantly over his best lap on Thursday."