Sepang, 18 November - The A1 drivers and A1 Cooper tyres were tested to the limit today in the searing heat of the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. With a track temperature of 39ÂºC and an ambient temperature of 32ÂºC, this was A1 Grand...
Sepang, 18 November - The A1 drivers and A1 Cooper tyres were tested to the limit today in the searing heat of the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. With a track temperature of 39ºC and an ambient temperature of 32ºC, this was A1 Grand Prix's hottest two sessions to date.
In a relatively trouble free day, with no red flags, the drivers took their time to learn their way around this highly technical circuit. The fastest lap time of the day was put in by a master of the Sepang circuit, A1 Team Netherland's Jos Verstappen. Verstappen last raced at Sepang with F1 in 2001 when he went from seventeenth to sixth in the first lap of the race and then worked his way up to second place as the rain fell. A slow pit stop and drying track saw Verstappen finish the race in seventh.
Commenting on his performance Verstappen said: 'We were trying a lot of different set ups with the car, but not a lot of things worked as the grip level was falling and the track was very slippery. It will certainly make for a very interesting qualifying session tomorrow.'
A1 Team Brazil recorded the day's second fastest lap time in practice session one despite a run in with A1 Team Canada. Commenting on the collision Nelson Piquet Jr said 'I was doing a quick lap and I think Sean had just left the pits. I saw him going slower in front of me and came off the throttle, which put the car into a spin. Unfortunately I hit Sean slightly, although our car had little damage. We always do well in the practice sessions with new tyres, and I think we will do well in the qualifying tomorrow.'
Another master of the Sepang circuit, Ralf Firman put in the fastest lap of practice session two, with a time of 1.56.663. He said, 'It's great now that I will be able to concentrate on A1GP for the rest of the season. We had a good day today, even though it was hard and there was little grip. It isn't quite as hot here as it is in Japan where I have raced before, but it will be very difficult towards the end of the second race on Sunday. The main difficulty will be to keep hydrated. Drivers who have a good level of fitness should be fine.'
A1 Team Malaysia are among only three teams that are preparing to share the driving duties this weekend, with both Alex Yoong and Fairuz Fauzy taking their turn in the yellow A1 car. Fauzy, who drove in both of today's practice sessions said: 'During the first session we had a problem with the rear suspension and by the time we had solved it the session had finished. The tyres started to go away during the second session and by the end of the session, I could not push anymore.'
Asked if the publicity surrounding his home race was distracting, Alex Yoong who will be in the Malaysian car for tomorrow's session, said 'I am doing promotional activity, but I'm here as a racing driver and that is what I concentrate on. Both Fairuz and I have raced here before so we both have experience on the track.'
When A1 Team Austria started their car to enter the second official practice session, the 3.4 litre V8 was only running on seven cylinders. Despite A1 engineers spending the entire session in the team's garage, they were not able to rectify the problem in time for Mathias Lauda to take part in the session.