KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 17, 2001 - European Minardi F1 drivers, Tarso Marques and Fernando Alonso, both qualified easily for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix at the lush Sepang Circuit, but the hard-trying squad was again given a clear ...
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 17, 2001 - European Minardi F1 drivers, Tarso Marques and Fernando Alonso, both qualified easily for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix at the lush Sepang Circuit, but the hard-trying squad was again given a clear reminder about the cost of a lack of pre-season testing and development time. Disappointingly, several mechanical "teething" problems have prevented the team from showing its full potential so far this weekend. Alonso's efforts in Saturday morning's second practice session were curtailed prematurely with a gearbox problem that forced him to take to the team's spare chassis for his first two qualifying runs. He then switched back to the race chassis for his final attempt, but was unable to better his previous time. By comparison, Marques struggled with an oversteering chassis on his first pair of runs, before making some significant chassis changes that improved the handling of the car and allowed him to reduce his lap time by nearly three seconds on his final qualifying attempt
"Qualifying went okay, especially the last run of the session, where we made some changes from this morning and improved the car quite a lot. The car reacted completely differently after we made the changes, so we must have a look at what happened with the set-up. The car had too much oversteer everywhere on the first two runs. After we made those big changes to the car and improved it for the last run, we set our best time so far this weekend."
"I couldn't use my normal race chassis at the start of qualifying since the mechanics were fixing a gearbox problem that affected my car in the second session this morning. As a result, I did two runs in the spare car, then switched back to the race chassis for the last run. The cars behaved quite differently and it affected my concentration. I couldn't get into a good rhythm and made some mistakes, with the result that I just didn't put a quick lap together."
"On the surface of it, 21st and 22nd places on the grid may not look like anything about which to be particularly pleased, but in the heat and high humidity of a Malaysian afternoon, and with the cars still suffering from some niggling mechanical issues as the result of a lack of pre-season testing, both drivers did well to qualify comfortably for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix. Tarso had a good, steady session and pulled out a usefully quick lap on his very last run, while Fernando's efforts were undoubtedly hampered by the fact he had to use the spare car for two of his three qualifying runs and the chassis balance wasn't as confidence-inspiring as that of his race car. As ever, tomorrow is another day. Both our drivers are strong racers, so we remain hopeful of a good result in the race."
- European Minardi