THE OTHER SIDE OF MOTOR RACING... Mark Webber might have taken a stellar pole position for tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix, but the Australian's new motorsport team -- MW Arden -- had a painful baptism at the Circuit de Catalunya this ...
THE OTHER SIDE OF MOTOR RACING...
Mark Webber might have taken a stellar pole position for tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix, but the Australian's new motorsport team -- MW Arden -- had a painful baptism at the Circuit de Catalunya this afternoon.
Despite a barrage of problems, however, there were flickers of promise -- not least the race pace of Miki Monras, who charged from 17th place to 10th and set fastest lap in the process. The Spaniard started the weekend in great discomfort -- it transpired that he was driving with a dislocated rib -- but once that had been resolved he was able to show his true potential.
Team-mate Leonardo Cordeiro had a fairly trouble-free run to 18th -- a stark contrast to the problems that befell Michael Christensen. The highly rated Dane suffered a failed clutch paddle in Friday's free practice session and then accidentally hit the pit speed limiter button on what should have been his quickest qualifying lap this morning. Instead of a likely top-six grid slot, he tumbled to 16th... and then compounded his misfortune by stalling at the start. Any hopes of a spirited recovery were dashed within a couple of laps, however, when his engine suddenly cut and he was forced to retire.
"The wet-dry qualifying conditions made it difficult to get the most from the car -- it was a bit of a lottery and I was one of the first drivers to take the chequered flag, so quite a few of those following were able to better their times as conditions improved.
"I'm pleased with the way the race went, though. The car felt competitive, which is the most important thing, and I'm pleased to have scored a point for fastest lap. I made a good start, but then lost a couple of places because I had to back off to avoid an accident just ahead. The first corner was chaotic, but I came through OK and had a good fight with James Jakes. In the end there was no way through, but I'm encouraged by my performance and the goal for tomorrow is to secure a top-five finish."
"The car felt good in free practice, but I hit traffic on what should have been my quickest lap so I don't believe I showed my full potential. I was confident that I could qualify well, but the session turned out to be completely crazy -- there was simply no grip at all and the set-up did not feel too good in the first part of the session. We made a few changes and that improved things, but by the time I came back out there was only time to do three laps -- and I made a small mistake on the first of those, which slightly affected my confidence. In reality, though, there just wasn't enough time to put together a good lap.
"I was happy with my race. I learned a lot -- and that's important, because it is the first time I have competed in Europe. Everything is very different for me and I have to acclimatise to the aggressive tactics everybody uses over here! If you're not aggressive at the start, you won't get anywhere -- although people were probably being too aggressive, because there were cars flying all over the road in front of me on the way to Turn One.
"I managed to get up to 15th, but then lost a couple of places and after that it was a question of consolidation. I made a bit of progress, but I was probably being a bit cautious with accidents going on all around me. I don't think I did too badly for my first race, but I will try to push a bit harder tomorrow."
"I have endured a catalogue of problems this weekend. The clutch began slipping in free practice -- and I lost more than half the session trying to sort it out. The car seemed to work well after that and I set some competitive times in the few laps available.
"The changeable track conditions made qualifying difficult -- and I don't think I had the best set-up for my first run. We altered the car, though, which improved things. Times were coming down consistently and the circuit was fastest right at the end, but I accidentally activated the speed limiter at the hairpin, which cost me at least one second... and a place in the top 10.
"My race began badly when I stalled on the grid. We managed to get the car restarted in the pits, but the engine then cut on the main straight and we're not sure why. So that was that, a short race.
"I know we have the speed, but circumstance has masked that so far this weekend. I'll be starting 26th tomorrow, so I'm not expecting a great result but it will be important to finish to get some data."
-source: mw arden