After yesterday's litany of trials and tribulations, European Minardi Cosworth experienced a far more productive session on Saturday, during final preparations for the Italian Grand Prix. Both Jos Verstappen and Nicolas Kiesa had busy mornings at...
After yesterday's litany of trials and tribulations, European Minardi Cosworth experienced a far more productive session on Saturday, during final preparations for the Italian Grand Prix. Both Jos Verstappen and Nicolas Kiesa had busy mornings at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Verstappen recording a total of 32 laps, and his Danish team mate, 29 laps, as they worked on chassis set-ups for the race as well as fine-tuning their cars for the afternoon qualifying session.
Both drivers reported useful progress being made, and went into Saturday afternoon's one-hour qualifying session with a sense of realistic optimism. With track temperatures hovering around the 45 deg C mark, the European Minardi drivers were out early in the session and both pushed to the maximum. Verstappen recorded his best lap time of the day, despite the hotter track, and was rewarded with a highly creditable P17, while Kiesa attacked the high-speed Monza circuit in dramatically committed fashion, and if not for a heart-stopping moment at the Ascari corner, would almost certainly have recorded an impressive time.
As it is, he will start from P19. European Minardi personnel were also particularly pleased to note that, with the inclusion of Marc Gené in tomorrow's race, eight of the 20 competing drivers in this year's Italian Grand Prix either started their F1 careers at Minardi or currently drive for Minardi.
"It was an excellent qualifying lap from where I sat -- it was a better time than I set in cooler conditions this morning. The car felt good and I was able to push hard. It was definitely one of my better laps this year, so we're still learning. I'm very happy with what we have done today, and hopefully the strong performance will continue tomorrow."
"Coming into Turn 1, the braking power felt good, and as a result, I ended up braking too soon and lost time. It was early in the lap, so I knew I had to push hard to see if I could regain some of the time. I had a good middle sector and then, coming into Ascari, I had the car positioned perfectly for a good exit. So far during the weekend, I have gone through there with 97 or 98 per cent throttle applied in fourth gear, but as it was qualifying and I needed to go for the best possible time, I tried 100 per cent."
"Unfortunately, on the way out of the corner, the rear stepped out and the car started to slide. I caught it, and didn't lose too much time as a result, but then I was slower down the next straight. Anyway, qualifying is all about taking chances, and I had to take a chance. If it had worked, I would have liked to see the time!"
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal - European Minardi Cosworth:
"On a weekend when 40 per cent of the field starting tomorrow's race formerly drove for Minardi, I'm pleased with the team's performance. Nicolas undoubtedly had the 'save' of the day at Ascari, and if not for that spectacular moment, would undoubtedly have finished ahead of a few cars. I believe we can build on P17 and P19 in tomorrow's race."
Time: 1min 25.078 secs
Time: 1min 26.778 secs