Formula One made its long-awaited debut in the People's Republic of China today as the stunning new Shanghai International Circuit echoed to the banshee wail of Formula One engines being used in anger for the first time. In common with all the...
Formula One made its long-awaited debut in the People's Republic of China today as the stunning new Shanghai International Circuit echoed to the banshee wail of Formula One engines being used in anger for the first time.
In common with all the F1 teams competing at SIC, Minardi Cosworth began Friday's official practice sessions without a bank of previous track data from which to draw, but drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Zsolt Baumgartner and Friday tester, Bas Leinders, soon began to familiarise themselves with the challenging 5.451-km circuit.
Predictably enough, they all reported the track surface to be dusty and lacking in grip initially, but as it cleaned up, lap times started to tumble. In what turned out to be a relatively untroubled day, the Minardi drivers worked through their full Friday programme, including fine-tuning chassis balance, assessing the Bridgestone tyres available for this weekend's Grand Prix of China and evaluating software.
"I'm happy with the progress we made today. It is always a challenge to learn a new circuit, and this one was made trickier by the fact the surface was initially very dirty. We did some useful work today, although we are still searching to find a good chassis balance."
"We had a gearbox problem at the end of the morning, but it was fixed between the sessions and we were able to complete our full Friday programme by the end of the second practice. The guys worked hard today, because there was a lot for them to do between the two sessions, and I was pleased to be able to reward them with a good lap time."
"Things didn't turn out as well as I had hoped today, but I'm still quite happy. We made progress with the car and definitely went in the right direction with the chassis set-up. Unfortunately, Massa got in the way on what would have been my fastest lap of the afternoon and cost me maybe six or seven tenths of a second. In the end, I did my best time on the second lap of that run."
"It has been a bit of a difficult day. We were looking for a good chassis balance, but never quite found it. We tried a new direction in terms of set-up, and this proved promising. We're not there yet, but it is definitely the basis for making some interesting progress next year."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal:
"On a positive note, what a fantastic facility and all credit to the Chinese for building what is without doubt now the state-of-the-art F1 track. This week's news, however, concerning the withdrawal of Ford and Jaguar Racing from the World Championship has shaken the sport to its core. As a result, there continues to be much speculation concerning the future of F1's independent teams, notably Minardi and Jordan, which rely on Ford-owned subsidiary, Cosworth Racing, for their engine supplies."
"Despite unfounded comments from some quarters to the contrary, Minardi has an engine for 2005, and there is no doubt whatsoever that the team will be lining up in Melbourne for the start of the 2005 F1 season. That said, our sincere best wishes go to all our colleagues at Jaguar Racing and Cosworth Racing, and we wish them every success in their quest to find a buyer over the coming months. It is not Ford and Cosworth that have failed F1, but F1 that has failed Ford and Cosworth."
Chassis: PS04B/04 (No.21)
Best lap: 1 min 37.076 secs
Chassis: PS04B/02 (No.20)
Best lap: 1 min 37.431 secs
BAS LEINDERS, Test Driver
Chassis: PS04B/03 (Spare)
Best lap: 1 min 38.522 secs