64th Grand Prix Automobile de Pau, France - 29th/31st June 2004 First Qualifying - Race 2: Weather: Humid, very hot. Here's what we said last year: "The weather is fine and sunny, the temperature edging its way up into the 30s, and...
64th Grand Prix Automobile de Pau, France - 29th/31st June 2004
First Qualifying - Race 2:
Weather: Humid, very hot.
Here's what we said last year: "The weather is fine and sunny, the temperature edging its way up into the 30s, and the Pyrenees are almost invisible in the heat haze. The sound of racing engines echoing off tall buildings gives way to the less reassuring sound of the gentle crump of bodywork against Armco.This can only be Pau!" Strangely enough, it seems to be just the same this year. However, due to irreconcilable differences between the Formula 3 Euro series (which is FIA approved) and the other Formula Three championships (which are FIA-sanctioned) - and please don't ask us to explain the difference - this is no longer an international Cup race (or whatever they want to call it this year) and is instead Rounds 7 and 8 of the Euro F3 Series, which has already wended its way round the greater part of Europe before arriving here in France. After a somewhat lively pair of free practice sessions, qualifying finally started a little short of 6pm, though it wasn't any cooler than it had been for the afternoon session.
Hopefully, though, they were all going to behave a little better than they had in free practice, what with collapsing suspension (Nicholas Lapierre [Opel Team Signature-Plus] twice, but that's what happens when you keep hitting the kerbs), and people running up the rear end of other people's Dallaras (Thank you, Lewis Hamilton - Manor Motorsport), to say nothing of general ignorance of yellow flags (Tom Kimber-Smith - Kolles - this does mean you!).
Anyway, with only a dozen or so cars out in each session, and no more than 20 minutes at their disposal, it seemed likely that we might get away with this, at least this afternoon. The first driver to haul himself out was Andreas Zuber (Opel Team Rosberg), so he was also the first to set a time. In previous year's times have started in the 1.20s and only come down slowly. This time the provisional time was in the 1 minute 15 second range by the end of the first flying lap. Jamie Green (ASM Formule 3) was soon up there too, only to be shoved out of the way by Alexandros Margaritis (Opel Team KMS), who was first into the 1.14s. With last year's pole time (1.11:999) to aim for, it seemed likely that times would continue to fall rapidly during the twenty-minute session, despite the humidity and track temperatures that reached 42