Monte Carlo, Thursday, May 13, 1999 - Mika Salo felt at home on the streets of Monte Carlo today during free practice for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, and it showed. The 555 World Racing Team driver, filling in for the injured Ricardo Zonta,...
Monte Carlo, Thursday, May 13, 1999 - Mika Salo felt at home on the streets of Monte Carlo today during free practice for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, and it showed.
The 555 World Racing Team driver, filling in for the injured Ricardo Zonta, has a solid track record in the event and that was demonstrated clearly as he drove confidently around the road circuit, bringing his car home in the eighth quickest time of the day at one minute, 23.862 seconds. The flying Finn has finished in the points on three occasions in this race, with two fifths and a fourth-place finish to his credit.
The principality of Monaco makes a stunning backdrop to the street circuit of the storied event, as the rich and famous rub elbows with the many thousands of spectators who line the course in order to catch a glimpse of world-class drivers in action. It is one of the few events in the FIA Formula One World Championship calendar that allows fans to get extremely close to the action as the magnificent F1 machines navigate the curves and hillsides of the road circuit.
Salo was comfortable and confident throughout the entire practice session, making adjustments to the set-up of his car in preparation for the qualifying session on Saturday. The Monaco Grand Prix is an exception to the usual race routine of Friday practice session followed by Saturday qualifying and Sunday race. The Formula One circus cools its heels for a day while the streets are returned to their denizens for Market Day on Friday.
Despite the 24-hour break, Salo is keen to get back into his car and focus on producing a solid result in what could be his final race for the 555 World Racing Team with the return of the injured Zonta approaching.
"I had no problems with the car today and every run just got better and better," Salo commented. "My run was trouble-free, which is good as this winding street circuit leaves no room for mistakes. I did find that the new surface on the straights meant they were smoother and I could go faster as it is not as bumpy. Qualifying is very important here because the track does not offer many opportunities to overtake, so I will push 100 percent to get a good grid position."
Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix starts with a practice session at 0900 hrs on Saturday, and a 60-minute official qualifying session getting under way at 1300 hrs. Sunday's race begins at 1400 hrs local time.