Formula One outfit Minardi kicked
off an extensive week long test last Monday at the Autodromo Santamonica in Misano.
One of the two Minardi Cosworth PS04B chassis on hand for the duration of the
test was driven initially on Monday by Tiago Monteiro, who then handed over to
Patrick Friesacher, while the other car was allocated to Israeli driver, Chanock
Monteiro’s task was to work on chassis set-up, while Friesacher and Nissany, who
were both having their first experience of an F1 car, spent much of their
allocated time of the opening day acclimatising to the levels of performance and
Tuesday saw a distinctly “Down
Under” flavour at the Italian circuit, as young Australian drivers, Will Davison
and Will Power, both experiencing Formula One performance for the first time,
joined Israeli driver, Chanock Nissany, who was completing a two-day programme
with the team.
Once again, the primary objective of the day’s activities was to provide the
drivers with the chance to acclimatise to Formula One, although the team’s
engineers also took the opportunity to evaluate some new aerodynamic components,
which may be used in 2005.
After two days of concentrated
testing the focus of the Minardi team on Wednesday switched to its F1x2
two-seater program. In the course of the morning and afternoon sessions, drivers
Christijan Albers, Patrick Friesacher, Zsolt Baumgartner and Nicolas Kiesa took
forty five passengers for high speed, high adrenalin tours of the challenging, 4.060km
The majority of the passengers on this occasion were nominated Minardi technical
partner, Bridgestone, plus commercial partners, Superfund and The Global Group.
At the conclusion of the day's activities, the hard working two-seaters had
covered a combined total of 550kms.
Thursday saw promising young Venezuelan, Pastor Maldonado, on the track in the
morning. He performed impressively, quickly acclimatising to the performance of
the Minardi Cosworth PS04B and steadily reducing his lap times until he achieved
his fastest lap of 1 min 11.330 secs.
Dutch DTM star, Christijan Albers was next up, and as expected, was quickly up
to speed, producing laps in the 1 min 11 sec bracket before setting the fastest
lap of the day, at 1 min 10.800 secs.
Yesterday, the fifth, and final, day
had a distinct flavour of the Bas Pays about it. The team’s two-seater F1 cars
were back in action for the second time in three days, with Jos Verstappen,
Zsolt Baumgartner, Nicolas Kiesa and Robert Doornbos handling the driving
In addition, Dutch Porsche racing star, Patrick Huisman, and Belgian F3000
competitor, Jeffrey van Hooydonk, sampled Formula One performance for the first
time, both men having brief runs in a Minardi Cosworth PS04B.
At the conclusion of the day’s two-seater programme, the F1x2 team had provided
a total of 62 guests – nominated by commercial partners, the Muermans Group,
Puma and Brevi – with passenger rides around the 4.060-km Misano circuit. This
brings the number of passengers carried during the two days to over 100, with
the hard-working F1x2 cars having covered a total of 1300 km in that time.
PATRICK FRIESACHER (Best lap: 1 min 11.150 secs Total laps: 42) “To test a
Formula One car is a great experience, and I have to thank the Minardi team and
Paul Stoddart for this opportunity. I was just amazed at the speed and the
braking of the car when I went out on my first lap, but then, like all race
cars, you start to get used to the performance. I think I had a good day and I
hope the team is pleased with the job I did.”
TIAGO MONTEIRO (Best lap: 1 min 13.240 secs Total laps: 20) “It was a great
pleasure to be back in a Formula One car again, and I have to thank Paul
Stoddart, Gian Carlo Minardi and the whole team for the opportunity they have
given me today. I had never been to Misano before, so I spent the first couple
of laps this morning just familiarising myself with the circuit.
"Initially, the conditions were very tricky, as the track surface was extremely
dirty. The situation gradually improved, however, so we got on with testing
several items and accumulating some useful information.
"I was also able to set the car up for the other drivers, who don’t have any F1
experience. I’m very pleased to have been back with the Minardi team again, and
now we have to work for the future. The next few days will be very important.”
CHANOCK NISSANY (Best lap: 1 min 14.780 secs Total laps: 41) “At the beginning
of the test, the track was not in great condition, but the car was behaving well
despite this. The surface and the grip improved in the afternoon and the car had
a good set-up, which allowed me to get a clear feel for the performance.”
commented Nissany on Monday evening.
Meanwhile a day later he reported: “Today was very different for me in terms of
the morning and afternoon sessions. In the morning, the car was in 2004
specification, but in the afternoon, I had the honour to be the first person to
drive a Minardi with 2005 aerodymic package.
"It is immediately clear that there is much less downforce available, and I
believe this cars will be much more difficult to drive and will demand
considerable skill from the driver. Overall, I felt things went well today, and
I would very much like to have the opportunity to continue my F1 “learning
curve” with the team.”
WILL POWER (Best lap: 1 min 11.790
secs Total laps: 22) “It was very, very impressive, like nothing else I’ve ever
driven. You just can’t describe the brakes and the power, but ultimately, it’s
just another car, and you have to get used to it and become physically fit
enough to drive race distances in it if you’re going to do F1.
"The track proved to be quite easy to learn – it’s mostly slow and medium-speed
corners, and other than the left-handers going onto the back straight, which are
taken ‘flat’, there are no massively quick corners. Once I’d familiarised myself
with the layout, I just found the quicker I went, the more I loved it. It was
WILL DAVISON (Best lap: 1 min 11. 900 secs Total laps: 22) “That was just an
awesome experience – incredible! You can prepare physically as much as you like,
but nothing can really prepare you for the experience of driving a Formula One
car for the first time.
"The power is amazing, although you do start to adapt to it quite quickly, but
the whole package – the engine, the gears, the brakes – is just perfect. In
fact, there is so much grip in the car, and the brakes are so good, that it’s
difficult to find the limit of the car in a short space of time, but at a test
like this, that is exactly what you need to do. Personally, I feel pretty happy
with the job I did today. I didn’t make any mistakes, and each time I went out,
I found there was something new to learn.
"I particularly want to thank Paul Stoddart, the engineers, and the whole
Minardi team, all of whom have made me feel extremely welcome. That, in turn,
hat has made my job easier. The problem is, now I’ve had a small taste of F1, I
want more, because I definitely felt as though I was capable of doing a good job
on the basis of today’s experience.”
PASTOR MALDONADO (Best lap: 1 min 11.330 secs Total laps: 22) “I’m really
impressed. This is my first time in a Formula One car, and I just didn’t expect
such power. This year, I have been driving a much smaller, less powerful car in
Formula Renault 2000, and I have also tested an F3000 car, but the F1 car is
something completely different. It’s amazing!
"Personally, I’m very happy to be here today, because F1 has always been my
objective, as it is the dream of all racing drivers. I think I did a good job
this morning, and I feel satisfied with my work.”
CHRISTIJAN ALBERS (Best lap: 1 min 10.800 secs Total laps: 20) “Firstly, I want
to thank Paul Stoddart, for giving me the chance to drive the Minardi. I have
become accustomed to Touring Cars in the DTM, and it’s good to be back in a
Formula One car, although they remain physically demanding to drive – I can feel
it in my neck even now!
"The team worked really well, but as only eight out of the 20 laps I did were
flying laps, there was not a lot of set-up time. My main aim this morning was to
show the speed I am capable of and what I can do in the car. I know I could have
gone quicker, but considering the number of laps, I think the time wasn’t too
JOS VERSTAPPEN “After a year away from driving, I really enjoyed getting back in
the Minardi F1x2 car, especially as sponsor, Harry Muermans, is here with all
his guests. It is always very exciting for the passengers in the back of the
two-seaters. It has been an excellent day, and a very good event for the
sponsors and Minardi.”
JEFFREY VAN HOOYDONK (Best lap: 1 min 15.930 Total laps: 5) “It was really
great. I never thought it was going to be so fast on the straight and also that
the braking would be so amazing. In the beginning, I found it just a little bit
difficult because the throttle was very sensitive and the power was immediately
there. I needed a little time to get used to it, but overall, it was really
great, even though it was only a few laps.
"Now I have a real impression of what a Formula One car is all about, and I’m
really happy I took this opportunity. I have been racing for 10 years, and now I
have finally had the chance to drive an F1 car, I know why I did all this
training – you really need every bit of physical and mental preparation to drive
a Formula One car. It was like a computer game, only faster!”
PATRICK HUISMAN (Best lap: 1 min 20.420 secs Total laps: 6) “It was a fantastic
experience. Normally, to get to drive a Formula One car, you race in all the
single-seater categories first. For me, this was the first time driving an
open-wheel car, so it was something very special. It was both strange and a bit
"The engine was quite easy to get used to, but the braking is very, very
impressive, as are the forces in an open car with the wind buffeting your
helmet. I took it very easy today and just wanted to enjoy the experience. I
think it is probably not so difficult to go four or five seconds quicker, but
then to find those last two or three seconds is always the most difficult part
in motor racing.
"I really enjoyed it – it was the best day of my life and I hope maybe I can
experience it again in the future. You never know. Finally, I’d like to thank
Harry Muermans, for talking with Paul Stoddart and the Minardi team so that I
could have a run in the car.”
PAUL STODDART “The whole team has done a fantastic job all week long to have
completed so many runs. Both the Minardi F1 and F1x2 teams have put in serious
effort here. Whether it’s the young drivers, who have driven a Formula One car
for the first time, or our guests, who have experienced F1 from the passenger
seat, you have only to look at their faces as they arrive back at the garage to
see what a successful event it has been.
It has also been particularly pleasing to see so many smiles from the guests of
the Muermans Group, as Harry Muermans has been such a staunch supporter of the
Minardi team over the past few years.”