A bold strategy, which assumed rain would fall at some stage in the race, might well have yielded a top-eight finish for European Minardi Cosworth in today's Australian Grand Prix. The team's cars were fuelled to the maximum, with both drivers ...
A bold strategy, which assumed rain would fall at some stage in the race, might well have yielded a top-eight finish for European Minardi Cosworth in today's Australian Grand Prix. The team's cars were fuelled to the maximum, with both drivers adopting a single pit-stop strategy. Unfortunately for the Faenza squad, the advancing showers eventually missed the Albert Park circuit. There was drama in the European Minardi garage even before the start of the race, however, when an oil leak was discovered on Jos Verstappen's car, forcing the Dutch driver to switch to the spare car, which had been set up for team mate, Justin Wilson.
As a result, Verstappen started from the pit lane, but with the advantage of having slicks fitted on what was turning into a rapidly drying track. Both drivers showed well in the early stages of the race, Wilson running as high as ninth and Verstappen, eighth, at separate times. Unfortunately, Wilson's debut Grand Prix race came to a premature end on lap 19, when one of his car's water radiators was punctured by a stone. Verstappen, however, made his scheduled stop on lap 31, but with an unsatisfactory chassis balance after that, was unable to make any impact on the cars in front of him. He eventually finished in 11th place after a gritty drive.
"I think the most important thing for the whole team is to get the car to the finish, and that's what we did today. I had to jump into the T-car because of an oil leak in my race car. That was a bit difficult, as the spare car was set up for Justin, but it was still reasonably all right. The balance felt pretty good, especially on the first set of tyres, but after the first pit stop, the balance was gone. After that, it was just a tough race to the chequered flag for me."
"It was fantastic to have the opportunity of getting towards the midfield and being able to race some of the other guys and drive past them. It was good fun and an enjoyable experience, especially in my first Grand Prix. It was just bad luck to get a stone through the radiator, which caused us to have the terminal problem. Other than that, I didn't have any particular difficulties today."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth
"Today's Australian Grand Prix marks the first time a Minardi PS03 has completed a full race distance. It was gratifying to see Jos racing as high as eighth place, and with the team adopting a slightly risky strategy that relied on rain, it was a gamble that almost paid off. Nevertheless, to get Jos home in P11 was a very credible team performance. Sadly, Justin's car suffered a holed radiator, and despite a valiant effort by the team to repair the car, sadly, it was not able to rejoin the race. Our congratulations, however, go to Justin, on making his overdue Formula One debut, and to Jos the Boss, on making his well-deserved return to Grand Prix racing."