The local weather lived up to its reputation for being stiflingly hot and very humid Friday, as Formula One teams launched into the first day of preparation for this Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix at the spectacular Sepang International Circuit,...
The local weather lived up to its reputation for being stiflingly hot and very humid Friday, as Formula One teams launched into the first day of preparation for this Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix at the spectacular Sepang International Circuit, near Kuala Lumpur. European Minardi Cosworth drivers Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson used the morning test and practice sessions to acclimatise to the demands of the sinewy, 5.542-km track and adjust the handling balance and aerodynamic trim of their cars for the afternoon's first round of "one-shot" qualifying runs.
They also spent some time comparing and evaluating the tyres on offer from Bridgestone this weekend. Pleasingly, both European Minardi Cosworths displayed faultless reliability throughout the day, allowing the team and its drivers to make solid progress. Wilson's performance was particularly creditable, as it marked his first visit to the demanding Malaysian circuit.
"We got through a fair amount of work today. We changed the car a bit and were quicker in qualifying this afternoon than we were this morning. It has been a solid start to the weekend and we can certainly build on today's performance. The car ran reliably throughout testing and practice, which is good - first and foremost, we need to finish the race because if you are around at the chequered flag, you never know what can happen."
"It has not been a bad day. Obviously, this is the first time I have driven on this circuit, so it was a case of getting to know the track. There are just one or two small things that you have to learn, which make a difference to the lap time. Other than that, I'm fairly happy. My best lap was only four tenths of a second from Jos, so it was not too bad. The car feels much better to drive than it did initially, and there are now just one or two small things that we'll sort out for tomorrow."
Paul Stoddart Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth
"It was a good, productive day for the European Minardi Cosworth team in what were traditional hot and humid conditions at the wonderful Sepang International Circuit. Both drivers completed their full testing programme this morning, and it showed in the competitive times set by then in this afternoon's qualifying session. Jos drove a gutsy lap to put his car into the high-38s, and we were particularly impressed with Justin's time, considering he had never driven at Sepang before today - he made a very solid improvement during the morning. We look forward to a very productive final qualifying session tomorrow."
JOS VERSTAPPEN: position 18th
Chassis: PSO3/01 No.19
Best lap 1 min 38.904 secs
JUSTIN WILSON: position 19th
Spare car: PS03/02
Best lap 1 min 39.354 secs