BARCELONA, SPAIN, April 27, 2001 - If the first day of practice at the Circuit de Catalunya is anything to go by, with one or two exceptions, the much-discussed introduction of traction control systems for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix has...
BARCELONA, SPAIN, April 27, 2001 - If the first day of practice at the Circuit de Catalunya is anything to go by, with one or two exceptions, the much-discussed introduction of traction control systems for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix has made little difference to the overall shape of the Formula One grid. At the conclusion of Friday's two one-hour sessions, four seconds effectively covered the field, with European Minardi F1 drivers, Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques, recording the 20th and 22nd fastest times. The young Spaniard made full use of the reliability of his PS01 chassis to put in a total of 44 laps as he worked with his engineers on chassis set-up and further refinements to the team's traction control software. Marques had a less satisfying day, and although he made useful progress during the morning session, a spin into a gravel trap after only 20 minutes of the second session denied him the opportunity of improving his car any further.
"Today we focused on the different electronic assistance devices at our disposal in the car in order to work out the best option. I think that everything went well, although we are perhaps still suffering from the fact we haven't tested very much. The electronic package seems to work well, and we didn't experience any of the engine problems that occurred to the other teams, so that is a good sign."
"The car responded well all day, but this morning I had a problem with the brake balance, which the team worked on between the sessions. I did a quick check once the car was ready this afternoon, and it felt better, so I went out for a timed run, but a rear brake locked and the car just snapped away from me and spun into the gravel. It's a shame, because otherwise the chassis felt good. Considering the fuel load and the fact the time I set in the first session was on worn tyres, I feel confident for a better performance tomorrow."
"Despite the fact European Minardi F1 has never tested in Barcelona with this car and all our competitors have put in many thousands of testing miles here, the team performed creditably and proved to be competitive with the Prosts and Benettons. The field is very close, and with last year's pole position time having been surpassed in the first session, we should be in for an interesting Saturday. Fernando put in a solid day's running, covering the greatest number of laps of any competitor in the process, while Tarso had the misfortune to spin off the track on what should have been his fastest lap of the day, judging by the first sector time. We will just continue to work our plan for the weekend."