IMOLA, ITALY, April 13, 2001 - Friday the 13th didn't live up to its disastrous reputation on the first day of practice for this Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix, but neither did it turn out to be a lucky day for European Minardi F1. Drivers...
IMOLA, ITALY, April 13, 2001 - Friday the 13th didn't live up to its disastrous reputation on the first day of practice for this Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix, but neither did it turn out to be a lucky day for European Minardi F1. Drivers Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques both lost valuable lap time in the garage while technical problems were rectified, the young Spaniard's car suffering a broken gearbox dog-ring and Marques' machine requiring a radiator leak to be repaired. As a result, neither man got through the full technical programme that had been planned for today, but both intend to make up for "lost ground" Saturday, and remain hopeful of putting in strong race performances at the Faenza-based team's "home" Grand Prix.
"The first practice session did not go well because my car had a problem affecting the gearbox, which we then had to change for the second session. As a result, I could not do many laps in the morning, and then we lost almost 30 minutes of the second session to fix everything. We couldn't make a lot of improvements to the car in such a short time, so 18th position is really the best we could obtain today considering the problems we had."
"This morning the track conditions were changing a lot and therefore we were not able to establish a good reference point so as to know how to improve the car. I felt my chassis, however, had essentially a good balance. The second session started well, but then my car suffered a leaking water radiator and this caused me to lose more than 20 minutes in the pits. We then decided to fit fresh tyres to improve my lap time, but unfortunately I was unable to improve in the way I had hoped. Despite the problems, though, I still feel optimistic for tomorrow."
"After a damp first session that, sadly, saw Fernando's car stop on the circuit with a gearbox problem, the second session was more fruitful, both European Minardi chassis performing in line with current expectations. Both Fernando and Tarso set promising times, despite not having had as many laps as had been planned. We continue to look forward to the weekend ahead, though, especially if the weather remains as changeable as it has over the past few days."