Today's opening practice sessions for the Belgian Grand Prix saw Minardi Cosworth drivers, Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner, plus Friday test driver, Bas Leinders, all having their first experience of F1 performance around this legendary ...
Today's opening practice sessions for the Belgian Grand Prix saw Minardi Cosworth drivers, Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner, plus Friday test driver, Bas Leinders, all having their first experience of F1 performance around this legendary 6.973-km circuit, located deep in the Ardennes forests.
Initially reporting that the track surface was lacking in grip and dirty off the racing line, all three drivers concentrated on adjusting the chassis balance of their cars to cope with Spa's high-speed swoops and dips. At the conclusion of the second of Friday's two one-hour sessions, it was Baumgartner who had set the fastest time of the Minardi drivers, recording an impressive lap of 1 min 48.687 secs.
Leinders, with his "local knowledge" of the Belgian track, and Bruni also produced solid lap times, indicating the team had made good progress in terms of its preparations for what should be an exciting, and possibly unpredictable race on Sunday afternoon.
"It was a good day for us and I'm happy with the time we set. Straightaway, I think we went in a good direction with the car set-up and the overall balance. We knew that our car could be relatively competitive on a fast circuit like this because the straight-line speed is good. Spa is my favourite track, so I'm very happy that I was able to be quick throughout the day."
"First of all, I would like to thank Paul and the team for the special effort they have made to give me a good-performing car for Spa. I am pleased with the day's work in general, especially this morning. We encountered a problem this afternoon with tyre pressures, and although the situation improved in the end, we lost some set-up time as a result. Overall, though, it has definitely been a constructive day, and it was absolutely a great feeling to take Eau Rouge 'flat' in front of my home crowd."
"I'm not particularly happy with today's performance, which should have been much better. I particularly want to understand what happened in the final run this afternoon, which ought to have been a lot quicker. We'll have a long, hard look at the data and aim to improve tomorrow."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal:
"This has to be one of the best Friday performances for Minardi in many a Grand Prix weekend. I was particularly pleased for Bas at his 'home' Grand Prix, who finished a very credible P21 in the first session, while Zsolt's performance in the second session, which saw him ahead of all three Jordans, as well as his two team mates, was exceptional. All three drivers produced commendably consistent lap times today, and we'd like to extend our thanks to Cosworth, for the fantastic engines, and to Bridgestone, for some great tyres."
Chassis: PS04B/01 (No.21)
Time: 1 min 48.687 secs
Chassis: PS04B/03 (Spare)
Best lap: 1 min 49.480 secs
Chassis: PS04B/02 (No.20)
Best lap: 1 min 49.742 secs