Wilux Minardi Cosworth started today's French Grand Prix full of optimism following its point-scoring finish in the United States Grand Prix two weeks ago. Unfortunately, a combination of an extremely low rate of mechanical attrition among the ...
Wilux Minardi Cosworth started today's French Grand Prix full of optimism following its point-scoring finish in the United States Grand Prix two weeks ago. Unfortunately, a combination of an extremely low rate of mechanical attrition among the team's rivals and a small driving error from Zsolt Baumgartner, which landed his car in the gravel at turn three on the 33rd lap of the race, put paid to the Faenza squad's hopes for a top-10 finish in today's event.
Nonetheless, Baumgartner's teammate, Gianmaria Bruni, provided the team with a degree of satisfaction. He made a good start, drove strongly, and enjoyed three superbly executed pit stops on his way to an 18th-place finish. Slightly disappointingly, the young Italian driver was not able to savour the sight of the chequered flag, though, as a gearbox problem meant he was requested to stop in the pits on the final lap of the race.
"I had a good start and was really thinking we might have a good race, but the performance was compromised during the first 20 or 30 laps by some problems with the set-up of the car. In the last stint, however, we reset the tyre pressures and found the right balance. Mechanically, the car was fine, but unfortunately, right close to the end of the race the telemetry indicated there was a gearbox oil leak and the team asked me to come into the pits on the very last lap rather than risk some expensive damage. It's a shame not to have been able to take the chequered flag today, but we did the most we could."
"I made a good start and it was clear the car was nicely balanced. I was able to pass Gimmi straightaway, and although he re-passed me at Adelaide, I was able to push him hard after that. Unfortunately, though, I made a small mistake at turn three, soon after my second stop, and the car went into the gravel. I'm upset not to have been able to finish the race today. We'll just have to aim to do better in the next race, at Silverstone."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, Wilux Minardi Cosworth:
"Today's race was all about reliability and sadly, from Minardi's point of view, with only one mechanical retirement -- that of Sato -- the finish proved reasonably predictable. Both Minardi drivers were having a good scrap, with nothing much between them in terms of lap times, until Zsolt ended up in the gravel shortly after making his second pit stop. Gimmi, on the other hand, drove a solid race to get to the end. The team is now looking forward to Silverstone, which will pose a quite different set of technical challenges compared with Magny-Cours."
Best lap: 1 min 18.932 secs
Best lap: 1 min 19.659 secs