Practice for the penultimate Grand Prix of the FIA Formula One World Championship season got under way at the Suzuka Circuit today with Minardi F1 Team drivers Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos acclimatising to the demands of the challenging Japanese circuit. The two one-hour sessions proved to be generally uneventful for the team, as the Dutch duo worked on chassis set-up and steadily reduced their lap times. Unfortunately, light rain began to fall after about 20 minutes of the afternoon session, effectively ending any chance the team had of making further progress. As part of the Faenza squad’s ongoing development programme for the Minardi Cosworth PS05, both race chassis this weekend are fitted with a number of new aerodynamic components, as well as a new design of rear brake duct, the package of modifications generating positive comments from the drivers.
ROBERT DOORNBOS Best lap: 1 min 35.150 secs Position: 20th
“We didn’t start the morning session as well as we might have, because the car was not quite how I wanted it – I had a clear idea in my mind of how I wanted it to be – but we did some homework over lunch. As a result, we started the second session on used tyres and the car felt good. We decided to fit new tyres to get a feel for how it would be tomorrow, and then I had a lot of fun driving a Formula One car with an effective set-up. There’s still room for improvement, but we’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
CHRISTIJAN ALBERS Best lap: 1 min 37.626 secs Position: 23rd
“I’m really happy today. The first practice was good because I’ve never driven on this track before, and yet I surprised myself with my lap times and was pleased to get up to speed quickly. The second practice also went well, with the same sort of times, but then when we went out for a new tyre run, the rain started to fall It was a bit of a shame because we could have learned a little more about the tyre compounds in order to decide which one we should use for qualifying and the race. Now it’s a little more difficult, but I think we still had a reasonable day.”
PAUL STODDART, Team Principal, Minardi Cosworth
“In preparation for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, both drivers performed well in the first session and were on target to complete today’s technical programme before a rain shower put paid to any improvement in their times. Unfortunately for Christijan, the rain started to fall as he was on his ‘out’ lap with new tyres fitted, so the run was aborted. All we can say is that we look forward to some dry running tomorrow.”
Minardi F1 Team