European Minardi F1 today began its preparations for this Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix -- the final round of the 2001 Formula One World Championship -- in positive fashion. Following the driveline problems encountered by drivers Fernando Alonso...
European Minardi F1 today began its preparations for this Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix -- the final round of the 2001 Formula One World Championship -- in positive fashion. Following the driveline problems encountered by drivers Fernando Alonso and Alex Yoong at Indianapolis two weeks ago, the team and its suppliers have put in maximum effort in the interim to design and produce new components intended to solve the difficulties. After sampling the initial balance of their cars in the first one-hour session, the drivers and their engineers got down to some serious work in the second hour, fine-tuning both the handling and balance characteristics of the PS01B chassis around this demanding 5.864-km circuit, near Nagoya. Both men recorded their fastest laps late in the session while carrying out tyre comparison runs.
"As Suzuka is absolutely new to me, I tried to make the most of today's first free practice session to familiarise myself with the circuit, which is not one of the easiest. We worked a lot on the car settings, and in the afternoon session I pushed to the maximum on the last two runs when I was on new tyres. Overall, today's session turned out to be satisfying, especially considering we ran with a lot of fuel on board. I therefore feel pretty confident for tomorrow."
"The second session was much better than the first session. This morning, I had a few problems with the handling of my car and we therefore decided to make some set-up changes for the second session. The times seem not too bad, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I have driven on this track before, which helped me today and allowed me to focus more on the car set-up. Even so, I must say this is a very demanding circuit."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal
"Today saw European Minardi F1 drivers, Fernando Alonso and Alex Yoong, complete full technical programmes and finish in 17th and 21st positions respectively -- very creditable performances that will assist them in their preparations for tomorrow's qualifying session. It's particularly pleasing when one considers that Fernando has never seen this circuit before and that this is only Alex's third time in a Formula One car in race weekend conditions. Both chassis were fitted with the latest specification gearboxes and, we're pleased to say, they were trouble-free throughout today's sessions. We also completed our full complement of laps, so it is very much 'mission accomplished' at the end of the first day."