Unfulfilled promise After a promising first day's practice A1 Team France tackled the second phase of the weekend on the Mexican circuit today (Saturday). Jonathan Cochet was at the wheel to take part in the third free practice session followed...
After a promising first day's practice A1 Team France tackled the second phase of the weekend on the Mexican circuit today (Saturday). Jonathan Cochet was at the wheel to take part in the third free practice session followed by qualifying. The team's confidence was boosted in the free session as Jonathan did short runs of 2 or 3 laps. He was constantly among the quickest improving the car's set-up on a regular basis. He lost out on the fastest time only a couple of minutes before the chequered flag to a car on new tyres, and he finished second in a time of 1m 21.738s.
Unfortunately, this promise was not fulfilled in qualifying. He ran into brake problems in the first 2 segments that determine the grid positions for the Sprint Race, which A1 Team France will start from 16th place. Things did not improve much in the 3rd and 4th segments that decide the positions for the Feature Race. Jonathan was not really used to getting the best out of new tyres. He improved his morning's time by a few tenths, while his rivals went a second quicker. The A1 France Team's driver's best was 1m 21.310s giving him the 14th quickest time in the session.
Olivier Panis, sporting director: "This morning Jonathan was on the pace right from the very start. He did a good job throughout the session so it was looking really good for qualifying. Unfortunately, success didn't crown our efforts. First of all, he was handicapped by brake problems. Then, as he had never had the opportunity to test the car on new tyres, he ran into a few problems getting the best out of them. Our starting positions are far from ideal. But we'll try and find the best strategy to fight our way up through the field to limit damage to our championship hopes. After all, last year South Africa got onto the podium after starting from 14th place!"
Jonathan Cochet: "I'm bitterly disappointed. It was all looking great this morning. The car's balance was good and I only lost the fastest time right at the end. This afternoon, nothing went as planned. During the first part of qualifying I had problems with a set of brake pads: the outside wheels were locking up in some corners. Then I probably didn't get the best out of the new tyres. It was my first time driving on them, and with just one flying lap per segment, it was a tough challenge. I think we can score points tomorrow in the Feature Race as the car's balance is pretty good especially on used rubber."