A gearbox oil fire aside, the KL Minardi Asiatech team enjoyed two productive sessions during the opening day of practice for this Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix, final round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship. Drivers Mark Webber and...
A gearbox oil fire aside, the KL Minardi Asiatech team enjoyed two productive sessions during the opening day of practice for this Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix, final round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship. Drivers Mark Webber and Alex Yoong were scheduled to work through their normal Friday technical programmes, including the important tyre comparison runs, but only Webber was able to complete this part of the day's activities, as Yoong's second session ended slightly prematurely when he was forced to return to the pits with an apparent gearbox problem.
On his arrival, there was a small fire at the rear of the car that proved difficult to extinguish and resulted in extinguisher dust permeating a large section of the team's garage. Nonetheless, Webber and Yoong made good progress fine-tuning the performance and handling of their cars around the challenging 5.864-km Suzuka track and are optimistic the trend will continue tomorrow.
"It was pretty good for us today. We got through our programme, tested both types of tyre and gathered some useful data for tomorrow's running. We will need to take a good look at what's best for us in terms of tyres and things like wing levels, but I really enjoyed tackling this circuit for the first time in a Formula One car, and am now looking forward to tomorrow."
"It generally went okay today. We were running through our normal Friday programme and then we had a problem with the gearbox, which forced us to stop before we were able to complete our new-tyre comparison runs. That was a bit frustrating, as we're going to have to rely on Mark's data to choose which tyre to run, but I'm sure we'll be able to make the correct decision and have a productive day tomorrow."
PAUL STODDART, Team Principal
"After a strong performance from both KL Minardi Asiatech drivers in today's two practice sessions, sadly a gearbox oil fire on Alex's car resulted in a large amount of fire retardant dust infiltrating our garages, and in particular, our computer equipment. While every attempt will be made to clean everything, sadly, the dust managed to get into every nook and cranny. That aside, the performance of the cars today, and in particular that of the tyres, indicates there is good reason for the team to look forward to a competitive weekend here at Suzuka."
THE ASIATECH VIEW
The Asiatech engines showed exemplary reliability in today's practice sessions on the demanding Suzuka Circuit.
Fastest lap: 1 min 37.997secs
Chassis: PS02/04 (No. 23)
Fastest lap: 1 min 39.142secs
Chassis: PS02/03 (No. 22)