European Minardi Cosworth had an eventful time at this weekend's French Grand Prix. Following Jos Verstappen's memorable provisional pole position on Friday at Magny Cours, the team followed the performance up with a strong showing in today's...
European Minardi Cosworth had an eventful time at this weekend's French Grand Prix. Following Jos Verstappen's memorable provisional pole position on Friday at Magny Cours, the team followed the performance up with a strong showing in today's race, Justin Wilson taking the chequered flag in 14th place and Verstappen, 16th.
Wilson adopted a two-stop strategy for fuel and tyres, while his Dutch team mate decided on three stops. Wilson's result was particularly praiseworthy, as he started the Grand Prix from the pit lane after switching from the T-car, in which he qualified yesterday, to his normal race car.
Verstappen drove a gritty race, grappling with several problems in the course of the afternoon, including handling difficulties in his second and third stints, a broken exhaust, and a loose front wheel nut, which necessitated two extra visits to the pits to rectify. Underlining his determination on a frustrating afternoon, however, he then set his fastest time of the day on the final lap of the race. European Minardi now looks forward to another of its "home" races, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, in two weeks' time.
"I knew with the fuel strategy we had today that I just had to push hard for the whole race and keep going -- Jos was on a three-stopper and it was going to be close whether that or the two-stop approach we had chosen was going to be better. The guys did a good job with the pit stops and that really helped."
"I thought there was an intermittent problem with the transmission in the first part of the race, as the car was losing speed quite badly on the straights, which is how Ralph Firman passed me. I eventually re-passed him, and although the problem had me concerned for a while, it cleared up and the car was fine for the rest of the race. Anyway, it's another Grand Prix finish, which is really good."
"It was a hard race, particularly in terms of the handling of the car. It started well enough and the initial set of tyres was good. After the first stop, though, the tyres were okay for five laps, but then the car developed bad oversteer, so much so that I blistered the rears badly. Late in the stint, the engine also suffered a broken exhaust, but I just pushed as hard as I could."
"Following the second pit stop, the handling was really bad and I lost a lot of time, while after the final scheduled stop, the handling was again good for the first few laps, but then deteriorated. Five laps from the end of the race, the left front wheel came loose turning into one of the high-speed chicanes, and I had no choice but to drive straight on. I came into the pits for a new set of tyres and went back out, but the car didn't feel quite right and I pitted again two laps later for the guys to check it."
"They assured me everything was okay, and I then set my fastest lap. All the problems meant we were frequently being lapped this afternoon, and it's hard to run your own race when you're getting blue flags all the time and having to move over for other cars. Anyway, at least I made it to the finish, which is a small reward for all the effort put in by the team."
Paul Stoddart, Team principal, European Minardi Cosworth:
"All in all, it wasn't a bad weekend -- to have a provisional pole position and to get both cars home ahead of the Jordans and within sight of the Saubers wasn't a bad day's work. As usual, both our drivers and the team did an excellent job."
Best lap 1min 19.588 secs
Position: 14 No. of laps: 67
Best lap 1min 18.754 secs
Position: 16 No. of laps: 66