SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA, May 12, 2001 -- Yesterday's preparations for the Austrian Grand Prix may have verged on the humdrum for European Minardi F1, but today's events more than made up for it. It began with a leaking gearbox oil seal that cost Tarso...
SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA, May 12, 2001 -- Yesterday's preparations for the Austrian Grand Prix may have verged on the humdrum for European Minardi F1, but today's events more than made up for it. It began with a leaking gearbox oil seal that cost Tarso Marques virtually the whole of the first morning session, and carried on in qualifying when the Brazilian's car spun on the first run of the afternoon. Switching hurriedly to the spare chassis, Marques drove what turned out to be his last qualifying run before arriving at the team's garage with a small fire at the rear of his car, the indirect result of a damper problem. The time he set, however, was enough to ensure he would be on the grid for tomorrow's race, albeit starting from 22nd place. By comparison, team mate, Fernando Alonso had a positively untroubled day apart from a non-damaging spin on his first qualifying run. He improved his lap times steadily and eventually netted 18th place on the grid.
"Today was not so bad. It is the third consecutive time I have finished 18th in qualifying, meaning that we are ahead of other cars with more potential than us. This makes us feel pretty satisfied with the work we are doing. It means that what we are doing on Friday and Saturday mornings is effective and pays dividends in the afternoon qualifying. I think this is important and encouraging, both for me and for the whole team."
"It was such an unbelievable day today, unlucky as I've never experienced before. This morning, a gearbox problem caused me to lose almost all the first practice session. Later, I lost a bit of the second session due to an engine concern. In qualifying, things did not go any better. When I went out for my first lap, I locked the rear wheels under braking and spun off the track. I then switched to the T-car, and all I wanted was to be as careful as possible and put in a lap time sufficient to ensure I qualified. I managed it, but unfortunately, I did just one lap before a rear damper problem affected the gearbox, and that was the end of my qualifying session."