Grid positions 1 and 16 for A1 Team Switzerland in Malaysia

22.11.2008: Grid positions 1 and 16 for A1 Team Switzerland in Malaysia

Off-track excursion and new rules setback for Neel Jani

There were mixed feelings for A1 Team Switzerland after the qualifying sessions for the races at Sepang (Malaysia). Initially, Neel Jani claimed pole position for the sprint race, but had to make do with 16th place on the grid for the feature race.

Initially, it was business as usual. Jani continued his good form after having been fastest in all four previous qualifyings held at Sepang since 2005. The 25-year old from Berne outpaced second-placed Frenchman Loïc Duval by more than half a second. "Neel has shown once more what he is up to", said Swiss team principal Max Welti. And the driver himself wasn't short of a joke: "So now we have seen who is the boss here at Sepang."

In qualifying for the feature race, Jani failed for two reasons. First of all, there was the rule allowing every driver to use the "power boost" for one lap in one of the four qualifying heats, which was in force for the first time. This feature unleashes some 60 additional horsepower by the push of a button. This results into an excess top speed of 10 km/h on the main straight and brings an advantage of about a second on one lap. Contrarily to many others, Jani had already used this in qualifying for the sprint race.

On the other hand, the Swiss made a driving error when it mattered. "In the second sector, I came off the track with two wheels", Jani reported. "It took about four to five corners for the dirty tyres to be all right again and that cost me almost a second. Maybe I had hit a bump earlier on. But without the "push to pass", eighth or ninth place would have been all I could have done anyway."

Neel Jani isn't very positive about the new rule. "It certainly doesn't suit the stronger drivers. When we are allowed to push in qualifying at all, we should be able to do so in both sessions. Now, I have no other option for the feature race but trying to catch up." Mas Welti doesn't rule out scoring points in the feature race either. "The longer race provides more opportunities to overtake other drivers. In the sprint, being 16th on the grid would mean that we wouldn't have a chance at all."

The weather on Sunday is also one of the uncertain factors for the two races at Sepang. At Sepang, it usually rains for a couple of hours from 15.00 h onwards. This would mean that a downpour could occur during the feature race. However, in the last few days it remained dry during the day. That could mean that it is still damp when the sprint starts.

The Swiss car that had to be repaired provisionally before practice on Friday due to clutch and gearbox problems, ran flawless in qualifying. Still, Max Welti considers the car as "not ready for the race". Meanwhile, new parts have been flown in from the UK and will be installed in the night to Sunday.

Sepang (Malaysia). A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. Starting grid positions for the sprint race: 1 Switzerland (Neel Jani) 1:47.154. 2 France (Loïc Duval) 0.593 seconds down. 3 New Zealand (Earl Bamber) 0.625. 4 Portugal (Filipe Albuquerque) 1.776. 5 Italy (Edoardo Piscopo) 1.853. 6 Great Britain (Danny Watts) 1.922. 7 Ireland (Adam Carroll) 2.043. 8 Mexico (David Garza) 2.139. 9 Netherlands (Jeroen Bleekemolen) 2.169. 10 India (Narain Karthikeyan) 2.196. 11 South Africa (Adrian Zaugg) 2.374. 12 USA (Marco Andretti) 2.496. 13 Malaysia (Fairuz Fauzy) 2.599. 14 Australia (John Martin) 2.844. 15 Brazil (Felipe Guimarães) 2.931. 16 Monaco (Clivio Piccione) 3.017. 17 China (Ho-Pin Tung) 3.120. 18 Lebanon (Daniel Morad) 3.228. 19 Indonesia (Satrio Hermanto) 4.269. 20 Korea (Jin-Woo Hwang) no time.

Starting grid positions for the feature race: 1 Ireland 1:47.124. 2 Great Britain 0.216 seconds down. 3 Lebanon 0.521. 4 Malaysia 0.524. 5 Portugal 0.556. 6 Netherlands 0.701. 7 India 0.724. 8 USA 0.742. 9 France 0.869. 10 China 1.002. 11 Monaco 1.118. 12 Brazil 1.199. 13 Australia 1.462. 14 Indonesia 1.715. 15 New Zealand 1.742. 16 Switzerland 1.856. 17 South Africa 1.937. 18 Mexico 2.413. 19 Italy 2.761. 20 Korea no time.

Practice before qualifying: 1. Mexico 1:48.431. 2. Switzerland 0.582 seconds down. 3. France 0.793. 4. Netherlands 0.970. 5. Ireland 1.022. 6. India 1.041. 7. USA 1.375. 8. Great Britain 1.406. 9. Portugal 1.461. 10. New Zealand 1.731. 11. Malaysia 1.733. 12. Lebanon 1.814. 13. South Africa 1.886. 14. China 1.892. 15. Australia 2.217. 16. Monaco 2.268. 17. Indonesia 2.702. 18. Italy 2.818. 19. Brazil 3.063. 20. Korea 4.450.

PROGRAMME. Sunday. 11.00 - 11.30 (04.00 - 04.30): sprint (rolling start). 15.00 - 16.10 (08.00 - 09.10): feature race (standing start).

A1 WORLD CUP OF MOTORSPORT. Standings after four of 20 rounds: 1. Malaysia 28. 2. Ireland 23. 3. France 23. 4. New Zealand 20. 5. Netherlands 20. 6. Portugal 18. 7. Switzerland 17. 8. Great Britain 16. 9. Australia 13. 10. South Africa 9. 11. Monaco 9. 12. USA 6. 13. Korea 4. 14. Lebanon 3. 15. Italy 2. 16. China 2. 17. India 1. -- 20 nations.

TELEVISION. Schweizer Sportfernsehen SSF (STAR TV channel): Sunday, 20.00 - 22.00 CET. -- Teleclub: 07.45 live. -- Premiere: Sunday, 16.45. -- NT1: Sunday, 15.00. -- AB Moteurs: Saturday, 14.00 and Sunday, 14.00. -- RaiSportPiù: Sunday, 14.00.


- Michael Schneider - photo A1GP
More photos will be on under PHOTOS - A1GP Series


22.11.2008 /

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