The mood in the European Minardi Cosworth garage at the conclusion of today's Spanish Grand Prix was as warm and sunny as the Barcelona weather. The team's drivers, Justin Wilson and Jos Verstappen, had just finished 11th and 12th respectively at...
The mood in the European Minardi Cosworth garage at the conclusion of today's Spanish Grand Prix was as warm and sunny as the Barcelona weather. The team's drivers, Justin Wilson and Jos Verstappen, had just finished 11th and 12th respectively at the high-speed Circuit de Catalunya, thus giving the team its first two-car finish of the season.
There were a couple of worrying moments before the race started - there was a problem with an auxiliary oil tank on Wilson's car and a higher-than-normal coolant temperature on Verstappen's - but both matters were successfully resolved by the team's hard-working mechanics. Wilson made another stunning start, deftly avoiding Pizzonia's stalled car as well as the aftermath of a first-corner accident, and then picked off several other competitors to cross the finish line in ninth place at the end of the opening lap - a climb of nine places from his starting position on the grid! He then stopped twice for fuel and tyres on his way to 11th place.
Verstappen drove a similarly gritty race, electing to make three stops when he found his car oversteering strongly on its first set of tyres. The situation improved for the second and third stints, but the Dutch driver's hard-charging efforts were thwarted when the engine of his car stalled during the final pit stop and valuable seconds were lost while it was restarted. He pressed on, however, to finish the race in a creditable 12th place.
"It was a fairly interesting race, especially in the first couple of laps. Pizzonia's car stalled at the start, and as he was in front of me, I had to jink out to avoid hitting him. That slowed me in the run down to the first corner and allowed Jos to get by, but then I found a great line through the carnage and managed to overtake a Jordan on the inside and a Sauber on the outside in two consecutive corners, which put me up to ninth place. After that, it was just a case of hanging on. I'd particularly like to thank the team for the opportunity to have a good race today and for the hard work they have put in all weekend, particularly when we had a problem before the start of the race. It has taken five races to complete my first Grand Prix, but it feels great."
"We have to be happy as a team that both cars finished today's race. From my standpoint, the first stint was very difficult, as the car developed strong oversteer. As a result, we chose to make an early stop and adopt a three-stop strategy for the race. The car then felt really good in the second stint and we were able to set good, competitive times. It was important to get to the finish today, and it was also good for the whole team, who have put in a lot of effort this weekend."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth:
"Both Justin and Jos drove gutsy races today and it's great for the team to have scored its first two-car finish of the season. Our lap times were competitive and Justin's first stint, which saw him climb as high as eighth, was truly remarkable. Full credit to him for a fine drive. Jos's efforts were hindered when the engine stalled during the last pit stop and lost him considerable time while the problem was rectified. Overall, though, it was a good day's work by the team, and particularly by our engine partner, Cosworth, who delivered two fantastic engines that didn't miss a beat all afternoon. Our congratulations also go to Fernando Alonso - what a fantastic effort to finish a brilliant second at his home Grand Prix. Well done!"
Chassis: PS03/03 (No 18)
Best lap 1 min 23.170 secs
Chassis: PS03/04 (No 19)
Best lap 1 min 22.910 secs