Justin Wilson might well be a Formula One rookie but his form in Monaco during first qualifying for Sunday's Grand Prix belied his relative lack of experience, as the 24-year-old out-qualified the works Toyota entries of Olivier Panis, a former ...
Justin Wilson might well be a Formula One rookie but his form in Monaco during first qualifying for Sunday's Grand Prix belied his relative lack of experience, as the 24-year-old out-qualified the works Toyota entries of Olivier Panis, a former winner of the Monaco Grand Prix, and reigning CART Champion Cristiano da Matta, on a track notorious for testing even the most experienced of drivers.
Familiar with the Monte Carlo circuit from his stint in International F3000, Wilson re-acquainted himself with the track in the Minardi PS03 during this morning's two-hour test session for those teams signed to the Heathrow Agreement. Justin's best lap time was 5/100ths faster than his veteran team-mate Jos Verstappen. In the following practice session Wilson once again lapped the 2.09-mile circuit faster than the Dutchman, this time extending the gap to 2/10ths of a second, proving to be the only rookie to out-pace his team-mate in the process.
Last to hit the track in qualifying, Justin's flying lap of 1m19.680s was just 2/10ths shy of Verstappen's posting but crucially was faster than both Toyota's and the Sauber of Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who failed to record a time thanks to a blown engine. In keeping with his previous laps Wilson was once again the closest of the four rookies, the others comprising da Matta, Firman and Pizzonia, in relation to the times set by their more experienced team-mates.
Following his blitz through Monaco Justin remarked: "I'm reasonably pleased with today's events. I felt I could have pushed a little harder on my qualifying run but I'm mindful of keeping the car in one piece! It's a fine balance here between caution and speed but I think we can probably push a little harder on Saturday."
"I was aware that da Matta hadn't set a great time before I went out in qualifying but I didn't know about Panis' performance. It's been great to get out here in an F1 car; it's not been a bad day's work! That said, we still have more to do before Saturday's final timed session and we'll concentrate on that tomorrow."
Justin's impressive performances today and 17th fastest lap time this afternoon, his highest placing in any qualifying session this year, means he runs fourth in the order for Saturday's final, and all important qualifying session.