KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 18, 2001 -- European Minardi F1 had reason to celebrate for its second race in succession. Drivers Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques both took the chequered flag in this year's Malaysian Grand Prix, an incident-packed...
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 18, 2001 -- European Minardi F1 had reason to celebrate for its second race in succession. Drivers Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques both took the chequered flag in this year's Malaysian Grand Prix, an incident-packed event that, in its early stages, resembled a powerboat competition more than a Formula One race. The achievement was all the more creditable for the fact both drivers had to deal with major problems during the course of the hot, humid afternoon, Alonso with soaring gearbox temperatures, and Marques with a punctured tyre that destroyed itself dramatically and, in so doing, damaged the rear wing of his car. There was also another "drama", as the torrential downpour early in the race soaked the team's pit-wall equipment and left personnel without radio or telemetry signals for much of the event.
It was quite a strange Sunday for us. From the very beginning of the day, I did not get a very good feeling from my car, probably due to the fact I had a few problems trying to find the right chassis set-up. The hardest time, though, was when it started to rain and my car did not go well in the corners. I was forced to change tyres many times and, as a result, I had to pit five times, which is quite unusual. The positive side of today's race is that I accumulated a lot of experience in these conditions, and I feel sure I will be better prepared for Brazil as a result. I felt more comfortable in my car as every lap went by."
"I made a good start, then I came in for my tyre stop at the right time, but from that point onwards, I started having problems. During my first stop, I couldn't engage first gear as I tried to leave the pits, losing two seconds as a result. Later, I started to lose pressure in the right rear tyre due to a puncture, and then I lost the tyre on the track, which cost me more time. I'm quite happy, though, because I succeeded in finishing the Grand Prix. I learned a lot about my car today, which is important for the team, and now we will work hard to prepare for the Brazilian Grand Prix, which is, of course, my 'home' race."
"After an incredibly exciting Malaysian Grand Prix, where the pre-event weather forecast was clearly wrong, European Minardi triumphed by getting both its cars home in very difficult circumstances. Fernando must have come close to setting a record for the number of pit stops in a race; however, the team took the decision to let him continue racing despite a mechanical problem that necessitated all the non-scheduled stops. We're also really pleased that Tarso took the chequered flag despite suffering a puncture that caused him to have to limp back to the pits. Overall, though, to have finished three out of four race starts is more than we could have expected in our wildest dreams six weeks ago."