Italian GP Saturday qualifying report

First, a couple of addendums to yesterdays post. Eddie Irvine was disqualified from the session afterwards for having completed 13 laps, 1 more than the permitted maximum. This moved everyone after 8th place up a position. Also, apparently the...

First, a couple of addendums to yesterdays post. Eddie Irvine was disqualified from the session afterwards for having completed 13 laps, 1 more than the permitted maximum. This moved everyone after 8th place up a position. Also, apparently the reason Martini didn't run yesterday was due to severe gear-box trouble. I also omitted to mention that Ukyo Katayama had a massive shunt at the 1st lesmo and tried out their new gravel bed and tire wall at the end of the session.

For the second session, it was again dry, and around 25 degrees. Panis and Irvine were the first out onto the track. Panis improved on his time and went up to 9th. Irvine however hit some problem, and limped very slowly around the track and straight back into the pits. There was no visible damage, and we never found out what caused it.

After a reasonably quiet first 10 or 15 minutes the Ferraris ventured out. Alesi took .224 off his yesterdays time, and Berger improved slightly, but stayed in 4th. Just as the Ferraris were going in, both Williams appeared. Both of them ran a couple of tenths off yesterdays pace, and failed to make any improvement. Panis took a spin at one of the chicanes while the Williams were out and was in quite a dangerous position as Hill drove past. He kept the engine running and the marshals managed to push him back onto the track, but he had damaged the rear suspension badly, and had to limp back to the pits with his front right wheel waving in the air and only touching the ground occasionally.

Dalmas had yet another spin at the first chicane, this time taking off from the curbing, flying through the air to land very heavily on the far side of the chicane, destroying the suspension at both front and rear of the car, and practically losing the left front wheel in the process. That was the end of his qualifying session. Then we got to watch Blundell lose it on the 2nd Lesmo from his head-cam, to end his session beached in the gravel.

On Bergers next trip out of the pits, he ran very wide at the exit of the third chicane, as many others (particularly Alesi) had been doing all weekend. Then he lost it ever so slightly and ended up on the far side of the curbing, picking up a lot of dirt on his tires, and possibly damaging the plank. After this, he went straight back into the pits, having completed only one flying lap.

At this stage, it looked like there were two separate battles going on -- the battle between the Williams and the Ferraris for placings in the top four, and the battle between the other teams for 5th and 6th... The battle in the top four started again with the re-emergence of Coulthard, who moved up into 2nd ahead of Hill. Then the two Ferraris reappeared, with Alesi being the first to break into the 1:23s, followed about 30 seconds later by Berger, who put himself into second to make it a Ferrari provisional front row...

Meanwhile the battle for 5th was furious. First Panis, then Frentzen, then Verstrappen moved up to 5th place. Verstrappen apparently said that the car had massive understeer yesterday, and at the time said "but wait for tomorrow" (meaning today). Lehto, by the way, was out of sight... Strange to see the familiar orange splashes, and those white wheels trundling slowly around to end up 20th on the grid. Then, just as Verstrappen was celebrating his 5th position, up came Herbert, a full half a second quicker than Verstrappen and only 1.1 seconds off pole position man Jean Alesi, and a two tenths behind Hill. At this stage it became clear that there was no longer a 4 car battle at the front -- Herbert had made it 5, leaving the rest of the field to battle for 6th.

Frentzen, in the mean-time lost it completely at the same place Berger had his minor off, locked up and went hard into the armco for a three-quarters frontal impact. Thus ended his battle for 6th. However, Sauber's battle didn't end there -- DeCesaris miraculously managed to get himself ahead of Verstrappen, and into 6th.

Then came a really fast lap from Herbert, as we followed him around the track, he was only .3 off Alesi's time at the second split, and finished the lap in spectaculour style to end up an amazing 3rd, behind the two Ferraris and ahead of the two Williams. Then, for the last 10 minutes or so of the session, out came the Williams and a pile of other cars. Hill managed to scape into 3rd place, but was .4 away from the Ferraris, who remained solid on the front row. Coulthard had an engine blow up, and failed to improve on his time, and moved down to 5th. The battle for 6th was still intense in the closing two minutes, with first Hakkinen taking it from DeCesaris, and then Panis from Hakkinen.

The two people with no time from yesterday, Irvine and Martini both qualified. This left the two Pacifics as non-qualifiers. Belmondo didn't come out this session, having destroyed his car this morning, and Gachot had an early spin, and lost his 26th place as soon as Martini appeared.

So, a Ferrari 1, 2 on the Monza grid, and Herbert finally in a competetive Lotus.

-- Christine.

If it makes goo on the windscreen, we'll call it a bug. -- Larry Wall

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Jean Alesi , Ukyo Katayama
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , Williams