A day of mixed fortunes as Jaguar Racing drivers Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia took to the hot Sepang circuit for the first sessions of the weekend. The day began with the two-hour testing session with both drivers working through a programme...
A day of mixed fortunes as Jaguar Racing drivers Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia took to the hot Sepang circuit for the first sessions of the weekend. The day began with the two-hour testing session with both drivers working through a programme of set-up and tyre evaluation. With this being his first time at Sepang, Antonio's aim was to familiarise himself with the circuit layout and generate maximum mileage in the run-up to qualifying.
Unlike Melbourne, however, the spare car is set-up for Antonio this weekend and he used this alongside his race car during the two-hour testing period. Mark's testing programme was running reasonably well when, about ninety minutes into the session, he made a mistake at turn ten and ran off into the gravel trap at high speed. The damage to the Jaguar R4 was significant enough to keep Mark out of the remaining test session and for most of the following Free Practice session while the car was repaired. Meanwhile, Antonio's Free Practice session was compromised by a problem on the front wing -- something the team successfully addressed in time for the qualifying session.
One problem that wasn't fixed in time for qualifying, however, was a fuel pick-up problem on both cars -- an issue that affected both drivers throughout all sessions today. There was an understandable concern on the part of the team going into qualifying but a completely different and somewhat rare issue ended-up affecting Antonio as he prepared for qualifying. The car failed to crank-up in the garage and by the time it started, Antonio had unfortunately missed his qualifying slot. Subsequently, Antonio will be the first driver out tomorrow for the last phase of the qualifying session. Mark's qualifying performance was somewhat better although he too suffered at the hands of the re-occurring fuel pick-up problem and ended-up qualifying in 16th place.
Dr Mark Gillan - Head of Vehicle Performance:
"A frustrating day but we'll re-group and focus our attentions on the weekend ahead. The fuel pick-up problem is not something we experienced during winter testing or at the last race in Melbourne. This issue affected both drivers all day and going into qualifying, we took some precautionary measures against this. We were, however, caught completely unaware of a problem which, quite frankly, we have never experienced before, It is unclear as to why at this stage, but for some inexplicable reason, we couldn't start Antonio's car. By the time it started and Antonio had made his way up the pitlane, the red light came on and Antonio had missed his slot."
"Naturally, we are all very disappointed -- particularly as Antonio had generated enough decent mileage in the lead-up to qualifying to have done a good job. Mark, on the other hand, managed a reasonably clean lap but the fuel pick-up issue cost him a few tenths. This new qualifying format combined with the strategies that teams carry into the race means that we still have a lot to play for. Not the best start, but the weekend is far from over."
"A disappointing start to the weekend. I managed to get over 40 laps under my belt this morning before qualifying and got used to the track quite quickly. The Sepang circuit is very wide and offers a driver so many choices when it comes to entering corners. I like the circuit but it takes time to fully exploit the varying lines on offer to a driver. With that in mind, I was obviously looking forward to qualifying but lady luck went against me today."
"The team is investigating the cause of the start-up issue that cost me my qualifying slot. I think I missed it by around five seconds but under the new rules, it was five seconds too late and we paid the price. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we will focus our efforts to strategy and in particular, race preparation. As we saw with Mark in Melbourne, you don't necessarily have to start at the front of the grid to end up racing with the front-runners under the new rules and strategies. We'll do our homework and hope that our approach isn't compromised by the problems we suffered today."
"Apart from the fuel pick-up issue which affected both Antonio and I all day, my spin into the gravel cost me the most. I was just pushing too hard going into turn ten and lost the back end. I was surprised, however, at how much damage the gravel caused to the car and because of this, I missed all but the last five minutes of the Free Practice session."
"Because of how much time I lost today, I didn't get anywhere near enough time to work on set-up. Going into qualifying, the car felt quite good but the fuel pick-up issue kicked in and cost me some time today. Let's hope for some decent mileage tomorrow during the two morning warm-up sessions and see whether we can compensate for some of our misfortune today."