Practice for the final round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship got under way today at the Autodromo JosÃ© Carlos Pace in dry, sunny conditions, Minardi Cosworth drivers, Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner, plus test driver, Bas ...
Practice for the final round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship got under way today at the Autodromo José Carlos Pace in dry, sunny conditions, Minardi Cosworth drivers, Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner, plus test driver, Bas Leinders, all coping with the demands of the Brazilian circuit in a Formula One car for the first time.
Bruni and Leinders lost some time during the opening morning session while minor technical problems were resolved with their respective cars, but by the conclusion of the afternoon session, the Friday technical programme had been completed. Although the Interlagos circuit has long been known for its bumpy nature, grip levels improved during the day, and this was reflected in a steady reduction in lap times.
"We had a good opening day. This is my first time in Brazil and I spent much of today learning the circuit. I think I adapted quite well, and I'm now looking forward to tomorrow, when I'm sure we can improve in some areas and be even quicker."
"Generally, it was a good day for us, although I made a mistake on what should have been my fastest lap this afternoon, which probably cost me half a second. The Interlagos circuit is new to me, and apart from being very bumpy in places, I quite like it and feel confident of being able to improve my lap time further tomorrow."
"Unfortunately, I was only able to do a total six flying laps today, as my car had a hydraulic problem this morning. That was subsequently fixed and I was then able to do two useful tyre comparison runs. Considering the limited number of laps available, it was a little difficult to set a competitive lap time, but I was nonetheless pleased with my performance."
"I'm also pleased with the effort of the team, and would like to thank everyone at Minardi for their support throughout the season. I have experienced very few technical problems all year, and this has provided me with an excellent opportunity to prove myself in Formula One."
Paul Stoddart, Team principal:
"It has been a positive start for Minardi to the final Grand Prix weekend of the season, and it was particularly pleasing that Gimmi's quickest lap saw him ahead of a Jordan and two Jaguars. Just to put things in perspective, it is worth noting that his best lap, of 1 min 13.467 secs, was almost four-tenths of a second quicker than last year's pole position time."
"Zsolt also ran solidly in both sessions and, in the end, was only a couple of tenths slower than his team mate. Special mention today, however, must go to our test driver, Bas Leinders, who had his last run in that role with the team today. Despite a small hydraulic problem in the first session that cost him some running time, he did his usual exemplary job for us."
"It has been a pleasure to have Bas with us, and we would like to thank him for his fantastic efforts this year. He has made a really significant contribution to the Minardi programme in 2004, and we wish him every success in his quest to become a full-time F1 driver next season."
Time: 1 min 13.467 secs
Time: 1 min 13.979 secs
Time: 1 min 14.754 secs