A perfect situation to start from in Shanghai Neel Jani has secured himself a perfect situation to start from in Sunday's two races of the A1GP series in Shanghai. The Swiss claimed pole position for both the sprint and the feature race. In...
A perfect situation to start from in Shanghai
Neel Jani has secured himself a perfect situation to start from in Sunday's two races of the A1GP series in Shanghai. The Swiss claimed pole position for both the sprint and the feature race.
In both qualifying sessions, Jani was in a class of his own. In the two sessions, he outpaced his rivals by almost half a second. In the battle for the grid positions in the sprint race, Portugal came closest to him with Filipe Albuquerque. For the feature race, USA's Jonathan Summerton will be lining up alongside Jani on the starting grid.
For New Zealand, runner-up in the points' standings with four races to go, 15 points down on Switzerland, Jonny Reid will be starting from fifth and seventh place respectively. Franck Montagny's performance for France, third in the standings, 20 points behind Switzerland, was an outright disappointment. The former F1 driver, who took part on seven Grands Prix for Syper Aguri-Honda in 2006, had to make do with 18th and 10th place.
Team principal Max Welti was excited with Jani's performance. "That was the best Neel I have ever seen. There are a few people that always kept his face in him. I am one of them. The two pole-positions are also the result of highly effective team work. The way in which Neel and the technicians are working together is impressive. After first practice on Friday, which wasn't easy for us, we started looking for a solution and we adopted it consequently. Therefore, this qualifying result is a great reward for all of us."
Welti admits to being cautiously optimistic concerning the championship standings. "We have got ourselves the basis in order to further improve our situation in the battle for the title. Certainly, this was a first important step in the direction we want." After the two races at Shanghai, there are only two rounds remaining during the season finale at Brands Hatch (GB) early May.
After the first part of qualifying for the sprint, Jani was still third. One of the key factors that enabled him to step up to the top position, was changing the front springs. "I am particularly happy that that helped us to improve", the 24-year old said. "After all, it was me who made the decision to change. From then on, I was half a second faster than the others all the time."
Shanghai is hosting the A1GP series for the third time. For Jani, however, the trip to the booming city is like a premiere. In 2006 and 2007, he had to miss out on the event due to clashing commitments in Formula 1 and Champ Cars respectively. The most part of track, which has hosted the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix since 2004, is familiar to Jani. In September 2006, he took part as a test driver for the Toro Rosso Formula 1 team in the test sessions on Friday. For the A1GP races, the 5.4 kilometres long track was shortened by 800 metres. Three corners have been left out, an additional chicane has been included. "Surely, it was helpful that I already know the major part of the track. On the other hand, driving an A1 car is more difficult than a Formula 1 car. The A1 car is sliding significantly more."