A top-10 finish for Jos Verstappen and four finishes in four Grand Prix starts for Formula One "rookie", Nicolas Kiesa -- that was the encouraging result for European Minardi Cosworth in today's United States Grand Prix. The race started in ...
A top-10 finish for Jos Verstappen and four finishes in four Grand Prix starts for Formula One "rookie", Nicolas Kiesa -- that was the encouraging result for European Minardi Cosworth in today's United States Grand Prix.
The race started in dramatic fashion for the Faenza team, a first-lap collision between Verstappen and Jordan's Ralph Firman puncturing a rear tyre on the Dutchman's car and forcing him to pit for a damage check and a fresh set of tyres. He stormed back into the race, and in common with the rest of the field, then found himself having to deal with heavy showers that soaked the track on several occasions and played havoc with pit stop strategies. In the end, a gutsy drive netted Verstappen, and the team, its second top-10 finish of the season.
By comparison, Kiesa took advantage of his team mate's first-lap misfortune, passing both Verstappen and Firman as the rain began to fall heavily. He then pitted on lap six for wet tyres, but unfortunately, the short-lived shower saw the track drying quickly and the young Danish driver having to pit again five laps later for dry tyres. His efforts were further blunted when, at this fourth stop, the correct fuel load was not delivered to his car, occasioning an extra stop a lap later to rectify the problem. He then pounded home to finish 11th and record the best result to date in his brief Formula One career.
"I had a bad start to the race, when (Ralph) Firman hit me from behind and punctured my right rear tyre, forcing me to pit at the end of the opening lap for a replacement set. It really spoiled our race, because I think we had the strategy and the car to have gained a World Championship point this afternoon. The conditions in the race were tricky, and it was difficult to know when the optimum point was to come in and change tyres. Even so, I think we had the strategy about right, and there wasn't much more in the car today, so we did pretty much the maximum we could."
"I got a really good start, and after there was a bit of action between Jos and Ralph Firman on the first lap, I overtook them. I pushed hard after that and was able to catch up with a Jordan and a BAR, and then have a good fight with them. At the first pit stop, the team put me out on wets, which was unfortunate, as the rain then stopped and I lost time as a result. I pitted again five laps later for dry tyres and then had a good stint, the highlight of which was my first-ever F1 overtaking manoeuvre, when I passed Ralph Firman."
"I then had to make an extra pit stop late in the race, when not all the fuel was delivered to my car. It was a difficult day for everyone, but on the positive side, I was very pleasantly surprised by the performance of the car in the damp conditions. In addition, I was able to put the knowledge gained in my first three races to good use, while having my first experience of running a Grand Prix in wet conditions. The balance of the car remained good throughout, despite the changeable conditions. Overall, it was a good result and I'm happy for the team."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, European Minardi Cosworth:
"What a day! In changing conditions that saw the F1 pit lane busier than in many a long year, European Minardi Cosworth not only scored a top-10 finish, but also got both its cars to the chequered flag. But for a first-lap incident, there is no doubt Jos would have scored the team's first point of the season. By the same token, the extra pit-stop probably cost Nicolas 10th place today. Overall, though, well done to both drivers and to the team for their efforts in what was a very busy afternoon."
Best lap 1 min 15.257 secs
Best lap 1 min 14.737 secs