Justin Wilson takes to the world's most glamorous street race this weekend, the Monaco Grand Prix, pleased with the improved reliability of his Cosworth powered Minardi PS03 following two successive finishes in Spain and Austria and satisfied with...
Justin Wilson takes to the world's most glamorous street race this weekend, the Monaco Grand Prix, pleased with the improved reliability of his Cosworth powered Minardi PS03 following two successive finishes in Spain and Austria and satisfied with his own personal performances in relation to his immediate F1 benchmark, team-mate Jos Verstappen.
As a circuit, Monaco's tight, twisty lines and unforgiving Armco-barriers test even the most experienced drivers on the grid. Justin's previous experiences in three International F3000 support races (99-01) have provided the 24-year-old rookie with a useful taster of the Monte Carlo circuit, with Thursday morning's extra practice session Justin's first opportunity to view the layout from an F1 car, undoubtedly providing a different perspective for the Minardi pilot.
Justin explained, "Thursday's extra test session will be useful, not only for me to adapt to driving the circuit in an F1 car but also to see the revised layout along the harbour front, where they've widened the track and smoothed the entrance into Rascasse."
Additional pressure on all competitors this season comes in the form of the new regulations and the one-lap qualifying format. With overtaking opportunities few and far between during Sunday's 78-lap race, a good qualifying position is significantly more important in Monaco then almost anywhere else on the Grand Prix calendar. A fact not lost on Justin:
"A good qualifying position really helps here but it's a long tough race so it's important to be looking ahead and working on strategy for that as well as securing a decent start position. The weather might be an important factor on Sunday. The last forecast I saw predicted rain, who knows what will happen if that's the case!" remarked the British rookie.
While unlikely to finish on the podium this weekend, Justin received the podium accolades in 2001 when he finished second in Monaco in the International F3000 support race. Wilson and Mark Webber, now with Jaguar F1, battled all weekend long for top honours. Justin was narrowly beaten to pole by Webber with a mere tenth of a second splitting the pair.
The 35-lap race proved just as close with Justin crossing the chequered flag less than a second behind the Australian. Ultimately it was Justin who went on to win the title that year and now both drivers have their chance to shine in F1, with Wilson replacing Webber at Minardi for the 2003 season.