European Minardi Cosworth opened its 2003 Formula One account with an encouraging first day's performance at Melbourne's challenging Albert Park circuit. With new regulations governing practice and qualifying sessions, and the addition of an ...
European Minardi Cosworth opened its 2003 Formula One account with an encouraging first day's performance at Melbourne's challenging Albert Park circuit. With new regulations governing practice and qualifying sessions, and the addition of an optional, two-hour, morning test session, there were many questions to be answered about the new schedule.
By the end of Friday's busy programme, however, European Minardi drivers, Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson gave the new arrangements a definite "thumbs-up". Both men spent the morning test and practice sessions adjusting their cars for the demands of the 5.302-km circuit, and then recorded competitive times in the new, "one-shot" qualifying runs. Giving good cause for optimism, Verstappen's lap was quicker than the team's best time in qualifying at the 2002 Australian Grand Prix, while Formula One newcomer, Wilson, was only 0.4 seconds off his team mate's pace.
"To me, it was really exciting to do the qualifying session like this, and I think everybody enjoys it. This is something new to all of us. I did a reasonable lap time - there wasn't a lot more there today - but then the car stopped on the track on the slowing-down lap because of a small technical issue. Fortunately, it is something we can easily fix."
"It was not too bad a time. It could have been a bit better, but at the end of the day, it's still a case of becoming familiar with everything. Also, getting used to the way the car handles with a light fuel load is a new experience. It all just takes a bit of adjusting to, but I'm reasonably happy."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth:
"Today saw the opening of European Minardi Cosworth's 2003 challenge at what is effectively the team's 'home' Grand Prix, here in Melbourne. With all the politics of the winter hopefully behind us, it was great to get out on the Albert Park circuit. The decision to adopt the Friday testing option has already paid dividends for European Minardi, as we were able to complete a useful day's technical programme, which we could not have done without the extra two hours of running time this morning."
"At 2pm today, we saw for the first time the new 'one-shot' session to determine tomorrow's qualifying order. It certainly did live up to expectations and has provided us with a mixed order for tomorrow's all-important, final qualifying session. Some teams have profited, while others have not, but it has done exactly what it was meant to do - make Formula One exciting again. Following Justin's F1 debut and Jos's return to the sport today, I must say how impressed I am by European Minardi's driver line-up this year, both guys putting in a sterling effort. It was also particularly pleasing to see how much we have improved our lap times compared with last year. We now look forward to an interesting final qualifying session tomorrow."
Best lap 1 min 30.053 secs
Best lap 1 min 30.479 secs