The final qualifying session of the 2002 Formula One season turned out to be a highly dramatic one, as a monumental accident involving Toyota driver, Allan McNish, occurred only minutes after the halfway point and caused the session to be stopped...
The final qualifying session of the 2002 Formula One season turned out to be a highly dramatic one, as a monumental accident involving Toyota driver, Allan McNish, occurred only minutes after the halfway point and caused the session to be stopped for 75 minutes while trackside repairs were carried out. Happily, the Scot was unharmed, and once qualifying resumed, KL Minardi Asiatech drivers Mark Webber and Alex Yoong performed strongly, their best lap times just three-tenths of a second apart after the final runs of the afternoon.
Continuing yesterday's trend, both men also made good progress during Saturday morning's two 45-minute practice sessions, as they worked with their engineers on fine-tuning the race set-ups for their cars. Webber stopped on the track in the final minute of the morning session when a problem developed with the gearbox input shaft of his car, but this was rectified during the two-hour break between the practice and qualifying sessions.
"That last flying lap was not a pretty one, but we did the best with the amount of grip we had available. The last run was still quite low grip for us. In picking the Prime tyre, which Michelin recommends for the race tomorrow, we hope that the sacrifice in qualifying today will have been worth it. We ran as fast as we could this afternoon, and now we'll see how tomorrow unfolds."
"The car was a lot better this afternoon than it was this morning, and was really enjoyable to drive. I was also pleased with the time. The chassis had a little understeer through the quick corners on the last two runs, and I could probably have found a bit more in terms of lap time as a result. It's good to end the year with a strong session, though, after the difficulties we've had in qualifying this season. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."
PAUL STODDART, Team Principal
"First of all, we're just very pleased that Allan (McNish) is okay - that was a seriously heavy accident by any standards, and once again serves to highlight the strength of current Formula One cars. Despite winding up P19 and P20 for tomorrow's race, both KL Minardi Asiatech drivers had an excellent qualifying session, resulting in the closest margin between the two of them that we've seen all season. Significantly, this was achieved on one of the most challenging circuits we visit. We now look forward to a strong performance from the team in the final Grand Prix of the year."
THE ASIATECH VIEW
This was another solid performance from the Asiatech engines, which helped both the Minardi Asiatech entries to qualify comfortably for tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix.
Chassis: PS02/04 (No. 23)
Fastest lap: 1 min 35.958secs
Chassis: PS02/03 (No. 22)
Fastest lap: 1 min 36.267secs