KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 16th, 2001 - The opening day of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend turned out to be one beset with niggling mechanical problems for European Minardi F1 drivers, Tarso Marques and Fernando Alonso. Marques was the more ...
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 16th, 2001 - The opening day of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend turned out to be one beset with niggling mechanical problems for European Minardi F1 drivers, Tarso Marques and Fernando Alonso. Marques was the more fortunate of the two, racking up 27 laps and holding a strong 16th position for much of Friday's two one-hour sessions before a gearbox problem brought his day's work to a premature end. Alonso, by comparison, experienced problems from the outset of practice in Malaysia. The culprit was a difficult-to-trace electrical problem that was rectified with only 20 minutes of the final session remaining. With no time available for chassis set-up work, he still lowered his lap time by over 2.5 secs in his last run of the afternoon.
"I am very happy, for today's session turned out to be fine and definitely much better than the one I had in Australia. Now I think we should keep working on further improvement for tomorrow. It was a shame that I lost almost half of the second session due to a gearbox problem. We should have been able to go much faster than we did because the track improved a lot, and given that we did not use fresh tyres in the second session, there is certainly good scope for improvement. I am now looking forward to tomorrow."
"As far as the morning session is concerned, there is not much to say because I could do only two laps due to an electrical problem with the fuel pump. It occurred again in the afternoon, causing me to lose a further 40 minutes. Once the problem was sorted out, I was able to run eight laps more over the last 20 minutes. The car was then much better, which allows me to be confident for tomorrow's qualifying."
"It has been a difficult day. Fernando has a new chassis this weekend that seems to have been suffering from small assembly bugs. There was an electrical problem that proved difficult to trace, but he did get out on the track at the end of the second session. He was then running a car that hadn't had any set-up work done on it, and he actually did very well to set the time he did. In Tarso's case, we think he had a gearbox problem as the result of a small off-track excursion that caused operating temperatures to rise."
" In the heat of Malaysia, both cars suffered. Tarso went well, though, and occupied 16th place on the timing screens until near the end of the afternoon session, when he stopped prematurely with a gearbox problem. Unfortunately, Fernando was plagued by teething problems on his new chassis, which denied him valuable track time. On the positive side, we're particularly pleased that both drivers have adapted so quickly to a track they've never been to before, and I feel comfortable that we'll see a significant improvement in the team's performance tomorrow and for the race."