Houston, Texas, September 29, 2000 Despite losing eight minutes of valuable track time in today's provisional qualifying for the Grand Prix of Houston, Team Player's rookie Alex Tagliani managed to finish among the fast group with the ...
Houston, Texas, September 29, 2000 Despite losing eight minutes of valuable track time in today's provisional qualifying for the Grand Prix of Houston, Team Player's rookie Alex Tagliani managed to finish among the fast group with the 12th-fastest lap. He covered the 1.527-mile street course in 60.407 seconds (91.003 miles per hour).
Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier was poised to get in some fast laps that might have moved him up the provisional qualifying board but he ran out of time because he had to serve an eight-minute penalty he had incurred at Laguna Seca earlier this month. Carpentier ended the day in 22nd place after recording a quick lap of 61.683 seconds (89.120 mph).
Scotland's Dario Franchitti took the provisional pole by clocking a lap of 59.434 seconds (92.493 mph), edging American Jimmy Vasser by two-tenths of a second. Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi was third.
Tagliani started the day in splendid fashion, putting in the fastest lap in the morning practice run. Team Player's made some adjustments prior to the qualifying session and Tagliani was running well when misfortune occurred in corner 7.
"I was coming into the corner pretty fast, touched the brakes and released them before turning in, but I went over a small bump and lost it," explained Tagliani. "I didn't stall the engine just bent the front suspension a bit and punctured a tire. After it happened, I was waiting for an opening so I could come out safely, but it was a blind corner. Maybe the official thought I had stalled the car, and he put out the red flag, which meant I had to spend eight minutes in the pits and I decided to serve the penalty right away so I could take advantage of better conditions at the end of the session."
The strategy paid off since Tagliani managed to post the second-quickest time in his group, which turned out to be the 12th best overall among the 25 drivers.
"We got out of the slow group and into the fast one for tomorrow, so I'm pretty happy with that because track conditions will be much better tomorrow afternoon for our qualifying session," he remarked. "We'll do our best to get even closer to the front."
Carpentier, who was third fastest in the morning practice, switched cars for the qualifying session and found that it had better traction. However, his curtailed session because of the eight-minute penalty, served at the end of the session, prevented him from taking full advantage of better track conditions.
"If you're in the slow group and you have to serve a penalty at the end of the session, there is no way you can make it into the faster group if you're not aggressive," said Carpentier. "But then, if you are aggressive, chances are you're going to make a costly mistake. It's almost a Catch 22 situation. There are a few things to improve on the car and I'm still hopeful for the final day of qualifying. These things happen, but you have to stay positive about it. We've come back quite often this year, so this is another challenge."