In near-ideal motor racing conditions, Wilux Minardi Cosworth enjoyed its best Friday practice session so far this season as preparations got under way today at MontrÃ©al's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix. There...
In near-ideal motor racing conditions, Wilux Minardi Cosworth enjoyed its best Friday practice session so far this season as preparations got under way today at Montréal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix.
There was a slightly shaky start to proceedings, when what turned out to be a minor gearbox software problem caused the car of Minardi's official test driver, Bas Leinders, to roll to a halt on the first lap out of the pits. Unfortunately, it cost the Belgian valuable running time on a demanding circuit that neither he nor regular race drivers, Gianmaria Bruni or Zsolt Baumgartner, had experienced previously.
Nonetheless, the team made a rapid recovery, and by the conclusion of the afternoon session, Bruni had set an excellent fastest lap of 1 min 16.235 secs, just over two seconds slower than the best Friday time. Team mate, Baumgartner, was not far behind, with a lap of 1 min 16.981 secs, while Leinders' time 1 min 17.697 secs after just 23 laps was also highly praiseworthy.
"We searched a bit to find a good chassis set-up and definitely went in the right direction on this. I'm happy with the work we did and am looking forward to tomorrow. I'd like to thank the guys for their efforts, and Bridgestone, for the tyres they provided us with today. I have to say, I think this is a very nice circuit. It's a little bit like Monza, with the chicanes and the late braking into the hairpins -- it's a good challenge."
"I'm happy that we're much closer to the big guys here. It's just a shame that I encountered some traffic on my last run this afternoon, as it prevented me from setting a faster time. I think we had a good day, though, as it was important to stay on the track and learn as much as possible about it. It's a fast circuit and we definitely found a lot of time as we got used to it. Hopefully, we can improve again tomorrow."
"Unfortunately, I was not able to run this morning as a small software problem stopped my car on the circuit. It was easily repaired once the car was back in the garage, and I was then able to take part in the second session, which I was happy to complete without any problems. I got into a rhythm quite quickly once I got going and was still able to carry out some useful test work for the team. I like the track very much. It has its own special character, and it's always nice to experience something out of the ordinary. All things considered, I'm happy with our performance today."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, Wilux Minardi Cosworth:
"I'm very pleased with today's outcome, especially as Gimmi's best lap time would have seen him in sixth position on the grid for last year's race. All three drivers did a great job, especially considering that none of them had seen this track before, except on television, and Bas suffered the added disadvantage of losing the entire morning session due to a car stoppage on his out lap. It was particularly pleasing to see all three drivers mixing it with the Jordans and Jaguars in what turned out to be Minardi's best Friday performance this season."
Chassis: PS04B/02 (No.20)
Best lap: 1 min 16.235secs
Chassis: PS04B/01 (No.21)
Best lap: 1 min 16.981 secs
BAS LEINDERS, Test Driver
Chassis: PS04B/04 (spare)
Best lap: 1 min 17.697secs