With the relentless afternoon sun beating down and track temperatures exceeding 50 deg C, final qualifying for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Malaysia at the Sepang International Circuit was always going to be a gruelling affair for both cars and...
With the relentless afternoon sun beating down and track temperatures exceeding 50 deg C, final qualifying for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Malaysia at the Sepang International Circuit was always going to be a gruelling affair for both cars and drivers. European Minardi Cosworth drivers Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson put in solid performances, and will start Sunday's race from 18th and 19th positions on the grid respectively.
The team spent this morning's two 45-minute practice sessions adjusting the handling balance of its cars and working on developing the best possible set-up for qualifying, while taking into consideration the requirements of its chosen race strategy. Wilson's efforts took a slight knock at the beginning of the second session when the left rear wheel of his car came loose as the result of a fouled locking device. Fortunately, the car was recovered quickly by track workers and, with no damage done, the British driver was able to return to the track for the last 10 minutes of the session.
"Today's qualifying session was more difficult than yesterday's, when I had a pretty good balance in my car. This afternoon, we experienced a lot more oversteer, and I think I lost considerable time in the middle sector, where normally it should be good. If the weather tomorrow is like today, my feeling is that we will be heading for a tough race."
"We improved the car as the day progressed, and although the time this afternoon isn't quite what we had hoped for, I'm not too disappointed, all things considered. It's also nice personally to have completed my first Formula One qualifying session. Now we'll just have to wait and see what happens in the race tomorrow."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth
"First of all, our heartiest congratulations go to Fernando Alonso and Renault. There was a big cheer in the Minardi garage when it was clear he had taken his first-ever Formula One pole position, as we still consider him 'family'. This afternoon's qualifying session was also a classic demonstration of the excitement the new Formula One rules have brought to the sport. Minardi had an almost trouble-free day, apart from a slight issue with one of the wheels on Justin's car. Despite the problem being quickly rectified, it cost him valuable time during his preparations for the final qualifying session. As usual, Jos delivered everything asked of him today, and the qualifying laps for both drivers were realistically the best we could expect, given our strategy for tomorrow's race. All in all, a job well done by both Justin and Jos today."
Chassis: Verstappen (No 19) PS03/01
Best lap 1 min 40.417 secs
Chassis: (No 18) PS03/04
Best lap 1 min 40.599 secs