Chinese GP: Minardi race notes

Minardi Cosworth had an incident-packed afternoon in what turned out to be an action-packed inaugural Grand Prix of China. Drivers Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner both got away to clean starts, but Bruni had to call into the pits earlier...

Minardi Cosworth had an incident-packed afternoon in what turned out to be an action-packed inaugural Grand Prix of China. Drivers Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner both got away to clean starts, but Bruni had to call into the pits earlier than scheduled for his first stop when his car suffered a punctured front tyre on lap 10.

Having lost considerable time to his team mate while he drove slowly back to the pits, Bruni then pushed hard over the next 30 laps to reduce the deficit. Unfortunately, just a few laps before what would have been his third, and final, stop, the left front wheel of his car came off as the result of a mechanical problem, and Bruni was forced to retire from the race.

By comparison, Baumgartner found himself grappling with strong oversteer after each of his pit stops, and also suffered a slightly worrying moment, when he locked up the brakes of his car while entering the pits for his final stop of the race and made contact with some of the Minardi pit crew members. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries, and once back on track, Baumgartner pressed on to take the chequered flag in 16th place.

Earlier in the day, the Minardi F1 Team had the pleasure of witnessing rising young Indonesian star, Reno Soeprapto, win the second of two Formula BMW Asia Championship rounds staged at SIC this weekend. The result was made even more satisfying by the fact a total of three Minardi Team Asia drivers, including Soeprapto, finished in the top 10.

Zsolt Baumgartner:

"For me, this was one of the most difficult races of the season. I struggled with the balance of the car after each of the pit stops, although it then gradually improved as the stints wore on and I was able to set more competitive lap times. I was probably too easy letting the quicker cars overtake during the race, as I lost a lot of time this way."

"I was upset about the incident during my last stop, when I hit one of my mechanics, but the surface of the pit stop area was very slippery and the brakes locked up as I came in. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, although there are one or two bruises to be seen. This is a challenging circuit to drive, and I am happy I was able to finish the first-ever Grand Prix in China."

Gianmaria Bruni:

"I was in front of my team mate at the start, but then Glock blocked me and Zsolt got ahead. I decided the best strategy then was to maintain a good pace, avoid making any mistakes and bide my time. Unfortunately, I suffered a puncture on lap 10, but was able to make it back to the pits for an earlier-than-scheduled stop."

"I lost a lap in the process, but was then able to reduce the gap to Zsolt pretty steadily over the following two stints, before the front wheel came loose. This is a very nice circuit and I am upset that I wasn't able to finish the race today, but there was nothing I could do -- we just had bad luck, and will have to hope it improves in Japan."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, Minardi Cosworth:

"It has not been a very good day for Minardi. Gimmi's race was interrupted by an early puncture and terminated with the loss of a front wheel, when he was simply too far from the pit lane to be able to drive safely back to the team's garage to have the problem dealt with."

"Zsolt, meanwhile, was stuck in traffic for much of the race, and going off the racing line here to allow faster cars to overtake costs you a significant amount of time. As a result, it was a tough race for him, but he nevertheless recorded a well-deserved finish."

"On a positive note, at the conclusion of this historic weekend, we must congratulate the Chinese for building a superb new motor racing facility, which sets new standards for Formula One."

Zsolt Baumgartner
Chassis: PS04B/03 (No.21)
Best lap: 1 min 37.570 secs
Position: 16th

Gianmaria Bruni
Chassis: PS04B/02 (No.20)
Best lap: 1 min 37.370 secs
Position: DNF

-minardi-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Gianmaria Bruni , Paul Stoddart , Zsolt Baumgartner
Teams Minardi