High and low for A1 Team Switzerland Victory and retirement for Neel Jani at Sepang The continuing ups and downs from the previous days for the A1 Team Switzerland continued on race day at Sepang. Firstly, Neel Jani won the sprint race in an...
High and low for A1 Team Switzerland
Victory and retirement for Neel Jani at Sepang
The continuing ups and downs from the previous days for the A1 Team Switzerland continued on race day at Sepang. Firstly, Neel Jani won the sprint race in an impressively commanding way. However, joy about the first win of the season was soon clouded. In the feature race, Jani already retired on the opening lap after a spin.
In the 11 lap sprint race, run over some 60 km, Jani had a margin of almost ten seconds over second-placed Frenchman Loic Duval. He also set a fastest lap time which was some 0.6 seconds faster than the second-best of the 19 drivers. Thus, Jani continued his performance from previous years. At Sepang, he had already won the sprint race in 2006 and 2007 and last year he won the feature race on top of that.
With 11 points from the sprint race, the Swiss team temporarily moved up into third place in the points' standings. "The car was nearly perfect", said Neel Jani afterwards. "I was running so well that I felt like having a pretty good chance for the feature race in spite of the bad grid position." But reality turned out to be much different.
Drama already started before the start of the feature race as the stewards put Jani down from 16th to last place on the grid. The Swiss team was penalised for a mistake during the pit stop in the sprint race. The right rear wheel had rolled away and was then put aside by the mechanic who handled the jack. According to the regulations, this could only have done by one of the four team members who were directly involved with the tyre change.
Neel Jani was hardly affected by the penalty. "16th or 19th, that is basically the same", he said and had a great start. After three corners, he had already overtaken five others. "Then I saw the South African driver right and the Australian driver left in front of me, the latter running rather wide under braking for the next corner. I decided to overtake him on the inside. Unfortunately, I lost control of the rear of the car while doing so and spun. And to make it all worse, my engine stalled as well, which put me out of the race."
After the incident, Swiss team principal Max Welti was in a rather disappointed mood. "Having seen what Neel was up to today in the sprint race and where he already was only a few hundred metres into the feature race, I feel sad. We could have made it much further up, perhaps even onto the podium", said Welti. "However, there are also positive aspects to keep in mind. The car came out very good from a technically demanding and difficult weekend. And let's not forget that Switzerland has caught up in the points' standings." Behind Ireland, that has pulled quite a gap, six teams are quite closely together.