Although storm clouds posed a constant threat ahead of qualifying today, the weather held throughout the crucial 60-minute session. Olivier Panis had enjoyed a positive free practice this morning and was looking good for a top-10 grid position,...
Although storm clouds posed a constant threat ahead of qualifying today, the weather held throughout the crucial 60-minute session. Olivier Panis had enjoyed a positive free practice this morning and was looking good for a top-10 grid position, but it was a different story in qualifying when his engine let go halfway through the session. Excellent pitwork from the Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda mechanics put him back on track in the T-car in just over ten minutes. Jacques made the most of a difficult session and after an impressive recovery from a second run spin, he steadily improved the car to finish just four tenths away from a top-10 position.
"We've managed to salvage the weekend a little bit. We had problems yesterday and then in practice this morning the aero wasn't working properly so we couldn't set the car up that well for qualifying. On my second run this afternoon, I was passing a slowing Sauber and ran wide, which caused me to spin off backwards into the gravel. Fortunately I recovered it quite well, stuck it into reverse and kept going backwards to get onto the track which minimised the amount of gravel I collected thankfully."
"After that we made steady improvement during the last two runs but then de la Rosa spun in front of me and I lost my only chance of making the top 10 today. We were the fastest Bridgestone runner after Ferrari again but in a fair race tomorrow it's going to be very difficult to get close to the points. If the weather is wet though that could count in our favour."
"What can I say? I lost my second engine in two days, which cost me all the good work I did with my engineers in practice this morning to achieve a car that was capable of qualifying in the top 10. The T-car was set up for Jacques so we lost time changing the settings but I would like to congratulate the T-car crew for turning the car around so quickly. If it hadn't been for that I would only have managed three runs today. To make things worse, the engine that was fitted into the T-car had a problem which caused a misfire and I wasn't able to improve my time before the end of the session. So, I'll have to focus on tomorrow now and try to make the best of things in order to get the best possible position in the race."
David Richards, Team Principal
"We've made the best of another problematic day and although we're not where we'd like to be on the grid tomorrow, things could have been much worse. It was a great shame for Olivier in particular who was running so well in practice this morning and could have achieved our top-10 qualifying target today. Once again, the mechanics demonstrated excellent teamwork in turning the T-car around and salvaging the situation. Although Jacques is the best Bridgestone runner behind the Ferraris, I'm sure he could also have got into the top 10, but now we have to concentrate on our race set-up for what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult day tomorrow."
Best lap time: 1:46.403 (11 laps)
Best lap time: 1:46.553 (10 laps)