Inevitably, rain hit qualifying for the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, and a shower half way through the session looked set to end the day's action. But in the dying minutes it was just dry enough for everyone to head out for a one-off...
Inevitably, rain hit qualifying for the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, and a shower half way through the session looked set to end the day's action. But in the dying minutes it was just dry enough for everyone to head out for a one-off effort. Only a handful of place changes resulted however, and Eddie kept his eighth position. Thus, he maintains his record of not qualifying lower than ninth in the six races held so far.
"It's alright, but I got held up on my quick lap by Nick Heidfeld," said Eddie. "I would have been fifth but I lost a few tenths through turns six and seven, because he stayed in front of me. The car felt okay in qualifying, but it's very 'on the nose'."
In the morning practice session Eddie had been involved in another incident involving traffic. He felt he'd been held up by Jacques Villeneuve, so he drove alongside the Canadian, gave him little room at the next corner, and made it clear that he wasn't very happy.
"He just blocked me as usual. He's always complaining that people hold him up, so I thought I'd let him know he held me up."
Meanwhile, Johnny Herbert didn't have much luck in the qualifying lottery, and had to settle for starting 17th, almost a second behind Eddie. He had been 16th, but lost a place in the last minute shoot out.
"When you're that far back it doesn't matter," he rued. "Let's just hope we can get a good start and then we'll see what happens at the end of the race."
Technical director Gary Anderson was happy with Eddie's performance, but was frustrated that traffic had got in the way. Eddie watches the pit monitors with technical boss Gary Anderson and race director Andy Miller
"We should have done better," said Gary. "Eddie got held up on his best lap, and there's still a couple of tenths in there. But it's alright. We spent time yesterday and today trying to get the car better, not really looking at the lap times so much as improving the balance of the car. We were thinking that if we got it reasonable we'd be alright. When it's wet and dry it's a question of running time, really."
The big question is, what will happen on Sunday? Rain at some stage during the day is inevitable, so it's a question of whether it falls between 2pm and 3.30pm.
"Who cares?," said Irvine. "It's the same for everyone."
After last year's tactical victory Gary is looking forward to the challenge of a wet/dry race.
"I love it anyway, so I don't mind. I think the car will be quite good in the wet. We've got a set-up on it that's reasonable. At the beginning of the season everyone would be running for two or three hours in the wet, and we'd go out and be just as quick as them in two or three laps. Since then we lost our way a bit, but hopefully we're back on track. I think we'll be alright."