Neel Jani among the victims of aborted qualifying An almost perfect result: third and fifth grid positions at Kyalami In Kyalami (South Africa), Neel Jani was on his way to claiming pole position for the feature race of the A1GP series, when...
Neel Jani among the victims of aborted qualifying
An almost perfect result: third and fifth grid positions at Kyalami
In Kyalami (South Africa), Neel Jani was on his way to claiming pole position for the feature race of the A1GP series, when qualifying was stopped due to an accident of Brazilian driver Felipe Guimaraes. Among the victims were a dozen more drivers who all had to refrain from their final attempt after the red flag. Given these circumstances, grid positions three (for the sprint race) and five (for the feature race) can be considered as an almost perfect result.
In qualifying, the Swiss car felt considerably better than in practice on Friday and Saturday morning. Jani was convinced to be a serious contender in the battle for pole position. As a result of the preliminary end of qualifying, the line-up on the starting grid for the feature race looks a little bit strange, at least on the first two rows of the grid: Monaco ahead of Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland and Portugal.
The first three benefited from their relatively early final attempt and thus from the possibility of using the power boost button which releases some 60 additional horsepower for one full lap by pushing a button. In the four qualifying heats, the drivers can use this performance boost only for one single lap that they have to choose themselves.
For the sprint race, Jani will be starting from third position behind The Netherlands and Portugal. Like four other drivers, Dutch driver Jeroen Bleekemolen had decided to use the power boost for the sprint qualifying session already. Bleekemolen was the only driver who arrived in Kyalami with meaningful knowledge of the track: in November 2008, he had contested two races with a Shelby CanAm sports car at the circuit.
Neel Jani accepted his bad fortune unfazed. "Of course, it is a pity that I couldn't make full use of the possibilities. However, that is not the end of the world. I am very confident for the races, because the car behaved really well on Saturday afternoon. We have solved the problem we had in qualifying in New Zealand. I was in the top three in all four sessions, even with used tyres and without using the power boost. And in Taupo, we have shown already how to win a race from fifth place on the grid."
Max Welti didn't rate the incident that might have cost the Swiss team pole position too highly either. "The positive feeling prevails. In both races, we will be starting ahead of our main rivals from Ireland. With great satisfaction, I have also been watching the co-operation between Neel and our engineer James Robinson in the past few days. The two of them have solved the problems that occurred on the car during the practice session in a professional way and well in time. And again, Neel has proven to be a matured race driver. He remained totally focussed, even when under pressure."
Off the track, Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa caught a lot of attention. Ferrari had invited the Brazilian to South Africa, once again underlining its commitment to the World Cup of Motorsport. From this season onwards, all A1GP cars are featuring chassis and engines supplied by Ferrari.