Preparations for the final European round of the Formula One World Championship, the Italian Grand Prix, got under way today at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Minardi Cosworth race drivers, Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner, and regular ...
Preparations for the final European round of the Formula One World Championship, the Italian Grand Prix, got under way today at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Minardi Cosworth race drivers, Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner, and regular Friday tester, Bas Leinders, were all on track from the start of today's first official practice session, aiming to build on the productive work carried out by the team during last week's Monza test.
The ultra-fast circuit, near Milan, rewards those teams that are able to run the lowest of possible downforce configurations on their cars while still retaining good cornering and braking stability. In the morning session, it was Leinders who made the most demonstrable progress when it came to dealing with this balancing act involving straight-line speed versus grip, the Belgian recording the 20th fastest lap time (1 min 23.696 secs), but the second-highest "trap" speed -- 361.0 kmh.
Both Bruni and Baumgartner struggled initially to find a suitable chassis balance for the track conditions, but made solid progress during the course of the day. By the afternoon, they had closed the gap to their team mate, the three drivers completing the final session with just 0.2 seconds covering their fastest lap times.
Bas Leinders, Test driver:
"Today, we had a very good day. It was useful to have been testing here last week, and together with my engineer, we worked very well to find an improvement on the set-up from last week. It's why I was able to go quite fast in the morning session with low downforce. This resulted in setting one of the highest top speeds, but also made the car quite difficult in the braking areas. We completed the morning in 20th place, which was good."
"In the afternoon, we concentrated primarily on carrying out tyre comparisons, as usual, but I still managed to set a good time, even though the low-downforce configuration was not quite so effective in the higher temperatures. It might have been better with just a little more downforce in the afternoon session, but nonetheless, we had a productive day, the team worked very well, and we had no major problems."
"It has been a good start for us. We struggled in the first session to match our test times here last week, but then we got closer in the second session. The situation wasn't helped by the fact the air temperature is different from what it was when we tested at Monza last week. We did some good work today, but we still have to find a good race balance for the chassis. I could definitely have gone quicker on my last run this afternoon, but was held up in traffic."
"It was a good day overall. We made some useful changes to the car during the sessions, and as a result, I am quite confident for qualifying. The car felt good for the strategy we plan to use tomorrow, so I'm happy."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal:
"It was an interesting day for the Minardi team in that we completed our entire test programme with all three cars. It's also always pleasing to end the day between the Jordans. It shows the testing we did here last week paid dividends, with Bas today almost equalling the team's best time set in testing. The drivers, and the whole team, did a great job as Minardi prepares for one of its 'home' races."
Chassis: PS04B/02 (No.20)
Best lap: 1 min 24.225 secs
Chassis: PS04B/01 (No.21)
Best lap: 1 min 24.063 secs
Chassis: PS04B/03 (spare)
Best lap: 1 min 24.045 secs