Fourth and fifth grid positions for A1 Team Switzerland in New Zealand

Fourth and fifth grid positions for A1 Team Switzerland in New Zealand

24.01.2009: Tyre problems for Neel Jani The qualifying sessions for the A1GP races at Taupo, New Zealand, didn't go as expected for the Swiss team. Fourth place on the grid for the sprint race and fifth place for the feature race wasn't quite what the defending champ

Tyre problems for Neel Jani

The qualifying sessions for the A1GP races at Taupo, New Zealand, didn't go as expected for the Swiss team. Fourth place on the grid for the sprint race and fifth place for the feature race wasn't quite what the defending champions had expected. Neel Jani concluded that the tyres were the problem.

"After the free practice sessions, that all went well, we had expected much more", said Neel Jani. "With used tyres, I had usually been three to four tenths of a second faster than the rest of the field. But in qualifying, the balance of the car was by no means satisfying. In the corners, the rear of the car suddenly slid out, sometimes at the entry of a corner, sometimes at the exit."

Quick changes to the set-up didn't cure the problem. Especially in the first sector, but also in the third part of the track, a lot of time was lost, exactly in those areas where everything had been going smoothly in free practice. "Until the end, I couldn't find the right approach", said Jani. "However, I am still not too pessimistic as far as the races are concerned, because we will be out on used tyres in the races. Now, we hope to be able to overtake a few opponents with a good start and an appropriate pit stop strategy."

Max Welti didn't hide his disappointment either: "Based on the practice results, we had expected to be on the front row", the team principal stated. "We considered Ireland and maybe France as our strongest rivals in the battle for pole position. Now, we are also behind The Netherlands, Portugal and Australia. Moreover, our gap to the fastest times is much too big."

Nevertheless, confidence within the Swiss team hasn't disappeared completely. "We have planned to turn something bad into something good on Sunday", said Welti. However, the 3.5 kilometres long circuit in Taupo with some challenging corners isn't particularly suited to make up many places. Especially the 15 lap sprint race will most likely see little position changes as a result. The 50 lap feature race will provide more opportunities.

The positions on the first three rows of the grid are quite similar for the two races. Both times, the first three places have been taken by Ireland, current leaders in the points' standings of the World Cup of Motorsport, The Netherlands and Portugal. They are followed by Switzerland, France and New Zealand in the sprint race and Australia, Switzerland and Malaysia in the feature race.

The rule introduced in Malaysia that allows the drivers to use the "power boost" in one of the four qualifying segments, releasing some 60 additional horsepower by pushing a button, was abandoned at Taupo following requests by numerous teams. At Sepang, this measure had led to rather unusual starting grid positions. For the two races, everything remains the same: four "boosts" are allowed in the sprint race and eight in the feature race.

Taupo (New Zealand). A1GP (World Cup of Motorsport). Starting grid positions for the sprint race
: 1 Ireland (Adam Carroll) 1:14.507. 2 Netherlands (Robert Doornbos) 0.265 seconds down. 3 Portugal (Filipe Albuquerque) 0.281. 4 Switzerland (Neel Jani) 0.695. 5 France (Loïc Duval) 0.853. 6 New Zealand (Chris van der Drift) 0.950. 7 Australia (John Martin) 0.997. 8 Italy (Edoardo Piscopo) 1.107. 9 Malaysia (Fairuz Fauzy) 1.203 10 Lebanon (Daniel Morad) 1.332. 11 South Africa (Adrian Zaugg) 1.410. 12 Mexico (Salvador Durán) 1.465. 13 Brazil (Felipe Guimarães) 1.567. 14 India (Narain Karthikeyan) 1.639. 15 Great Britain (Dan Clarke) 1.840. 16 Monaco (Clivio Piccione) 1.917. 17 USA (Marco Andretti) 2.284. 18 China (Cheng Cong Fu) 2.378. 19 Indonesia (Satrio Hermanto) 2.759.

Starting grid positions for the feature race: 1 Ireland 1:14.411. 2 Netherlands 0.265. 3 Portugal 0.432. 4 Australia 0.565. 5 Switzerland 0.632. 6 Malaysia 0.835. 7 France 1.012. 8 USA 1.116. 9 Lebanon 1.176. 10 New Zealand 1.211. 11 India 1.288. 12 Brazil 1.401. 13 Mexico 1.481. 14 Great Britain 1.491. 15 Italy 1.531. 16 South Africa 1.753. 17 Monaco 2.324. 18 Indonesia 2.372. 19 China 2.773.

Pratice before qualifying:
1. Italy 1:15.112. 2. Netherlands 0.133. 3. Switzerland 0.541. 4 USA 0.632. 5. Portugal 0.880. 6. France 1.021. 7. Ireland 1.093. 8. Australia 1.202. 9. Lebanon 1.488. 10 Mexico 1.498. 11. New Zealand 1.561. 12. Brazil 1.583. 13. Malaysia 1.674. 14. South Africa 1.722. 15. Monaco 1.723. 16. Great Britain 1.886. 17. India 1.901. 18. Indonesia 2.350. 19. China 2.384.

Sunday. 11.00 - 11.30 (Sat 23.00 - 23.30): sprint. 15.00 - 16.10 (03.00 - 04.10): feature race.

A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. Standings after 6 of 18 rounds
: 1. Ireland 43. 2. Portugal 35. 3. France 31. 4. New Zealand 31. 5. Malaysia 29. 6. Switzerland 28. 7. Netherlands 26. 8. Australia 22. 9. Great Britain 16. 10. USA 16. 11. South Africa 15. 12. Monaco 9. 13. Italy 4. 14. Brazil 4. 15. Korea 4. 16. China 4. 17. Lebanon 3. 18. India 1. 19. Indonesia 0. 20. Mexico 0.

TV: Schweizer Sportfernsehen SSF (STAR TV channel): Sunday, 20.00 - 22.00 CET. -- NT1: Sunday, 15.00. -- AB Moteurs: Saturday, 14.00 (Qualifying) and Sunday, 14.00. (Sprint Race) -- RaiSportPiù: Sunday, 14.00.

- Michael Schneider - photos A1Team Switzerland


24.01.2009 / MaP

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