Treacherously wet conditions today prevailed during the first official qualifying session for Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix, making the driving display by European Minardi Cosworth drivers, Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson, all the more impressive.
Treacherously wet conditions today prevailed during the first official qualifying session for Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix, making the driving display by European Minardi Cosworth drivers, Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson, all the more impressive. Despite the minimal grip available from the sodden track surface, the two men provided the team's best qualifying performance so far this season, recording the 11th and 13th fastest lap times around the demanding 4.421-km Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
The first day of practise started under sunny, warm skies, but by mid-morning, steady rain had moved in over the Ile Notre Dame track, giving drivers and engineers alike a busy time. During Friday's morning test and practise sessions, Verstappen and Wilson worked through a solid technical programme, including the assessment and evaluation of a new brake system, aerodynamic components, control software and tyres.
Team technical staff reported they had accumulated some useful data, the aerodynamic modifications in particular resulting in a worthwhile improvement to the performance of the European Minardi PS03. With further precipitation promised over the next two days in the Montréal area, preparations for the Canadian Grand Prix, which marks the halfway point of the 2003 Formula One season, are certain to be interesting.
"I think this was a good performance for us, and it could have been even nicer if it hadn't rained hard again late in the qualifying session -- I think maybe even a top-five position would have been possible. Still, these are the best positions Minardi has had in qualifying so far this season, and although there is no doubt the rain helped us with that today, it was very difficult out there this afternoon. We were struggling a bit with the set-up of the car this morning, but then improved it significantly, and it worked well on the heavy wet tyres. I'm very happy with this result, especially for the team, and now we will see what happens tomorrow."
"The conditions were very difficult this afternoon, just trying to work out where the grip was and where to push, and where not to. I locked a wheel at the hairpin under braking, which caused a bit of a moment, but the biggest problem was just trying to keep the car going in roughly the right direction on the straights. Tomorrow is, of course, another day, but this result is a great boost for everyone on the team."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth:
"We're obviously ecstatic about today's performance, although sadly, it has come on a weekend that has so far been somewhat overshadowed by Formula One politics. In the equalised conditions created by the rain, where all the Bridgestone teams are on the same tyres and the Michelin teams likewise, Minardi's true potential was able to show through. I must particularly thank Bridgestone for the fantastic wet tyres they provided us with today."
Time: 1 min 37.426 secs
Time: 1 min 38.088 secs