Minardi find a loophole

The 'other' Italian team, little minnows Minardi, found and exploited a loophole in the new qualifying system on Saturday. Justin Wilson was first out in Saturday qualifying, after setting the slowest time on Friday, and despite running a neat and...

The 'other' Italian team, little minnows Minardi, found and exploited a loophole in the new qualifying system on Saturday. Justin Wilson was first out in Saturday qualifying, after setting the slowest time on Friday, and despite running a neat and tidy lap he pulled into the pit lane before completing it.

Team mate Jos Verstappen did just the same on his one flying lap -- but the aborted runs were explained as a strategy decision. Minardi presumed it would be at the back of the grid anyway, so not actually setting a time did not make any difference to the expected results. Now the team has freedom to work on the cars before the race, as not setting a time excludes them from the parc fermé conditions.

"(The) qualifying session for the European Minardi Cosworth team was all about strategy," said team principal Paul Stoddart. "With limited testing -- indeed, only one session for each car prior to Melbourne -- and the sort of reliability issues that are to be expected without the benefit of a winter testing programme, the decision was taken today to start both Minardis from the back of the grid for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix."

"This is to allow the team's mechanics to give us our best possible opportunity to finish the race, but perhaps most importantly, to allow us the latest possible opportunity of assessing the likely race conditions, and thus planning our strategy accordingly."

An innovative approach from Minardi, although whether it will pay dividends is yet to be seen. Ron Dennis will surely be not impressed.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jos Verstappen , Justin Wilson , Paul Stoddart
Teams Minardi