French GP: Minardi qualifying notes

European Minardi Cosworth today scored its first-ever pole position -- albeit "provisional" pole -- during the opening qualifying session for Sunday's French Grand Prix, when Jos Verstappen took full advantage of a rapidly drying track to post the...

European Minardi Cosworth today scored its first-ever pole position -- albeit "provisional" pole -- during the opening qualifying session for Sunday's French Grand Prix, when Jos Verstappen took full advantage of a rapidly drying track to post the fastest lap of the afternoon.

Initially, it seemed as though it would be a stunning European Minardi one-two, as Verstappen's team mate, Justin Wilson, scooped second place. Unfortunately for the British driver, his car was found to be marginally underweight by scrutineers following the conclusion of the qualifying session, possibly the result of switching from full wet to dry tyres at the very last moment -- the wets weigh slightly more -- without adding a small amount of fuel to compensate.

Despite the highly changeable weather conditions prevailing throughout Friday in the Magny Cours area of France, Minardi made solid technical progress adapting its PS03 chassis to the demands of this technical circuit, and will therefore be hoping for further good news at the conclusion of tomorrow's final qualifying session.

Jos Verstappen:

"It was a good qualifying lap on a reasonably dry track. Even so, it was necessary to be careful, as the curbs were wet and it would have been easy to spin the car. It was necessary to take it to the limit on the qualifying run, however, as we don't get too many opportunities like we did today. When you do, you have to take full advantage. It has taken me nine-and-a-half years in Formula One and 101 Grands Prix to achieve this result. I'm very happy for the whole team, and especially for the mechanics, who have all worked really hard -- the result is what we all deserve. The first 100 Formula One races are behind me, and now we have opened a new account."

Justin Wilson:

"Despite running right at the end of the qualifying session, the track conditions were still tricky. The surface was wet in places and it would have been very easy to make a mistake. The car felt good, however, and I was pleased at how it performed in the conditions as well as with my qualifying lap. All credit to Jos for his lap, though, which was clearly a good one."

"It is obviously disappointing to have lost my time as the result of a small technical infringement, but I'm still pleased with what we accomplished. With the weather conditions being so changeable here, perhaps there will be a chance of another surprise result tomorrow."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal - European Minardi Cosworth:

"What a fantastic day! It doesn't get much better than this. It was a brave decision to go on to dry tyres, and it took absolutely 100 per cent effort from both drivers, which is exactly what they gave. It resulted in the most momentous outcome in Minardi's qualifying history."

"Sadly, it appears that in our haste to change Justin's set-up for the drying track conditions, the boys neglected to take full account of the difference in weight between the wet and dry tyres. As everyone is aware, weights are checked at the end of all qualifying sessions, and Minardi never has, and never would, knowingly allow a car to run underweight. We therefore fully respect the FIA's decision on this matter, and the fact is, Justin will always know he crossed the line in P2 at the end of this memorable qualifying session."

JOS VERSTAPPEN
Position: 1
Time: 1 min 20.817 secs
Chassis: PS03/03

JUSTIN WILSON (disqualified)
Position: 20
Time: 1min 20.968 secs
Chassis: PS03/04

-minardi-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jos Verstappen , Justin Wilson , Paul Stoddart
Teams Minardi