A1 Team France will start from 5th and 7th places for tomorrow’s Sprint and Feature races on the Taupo circuit in New Zealand hosting the fourth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. After the brake problems the team ran into yesterday, its aim was to do as much running as possible today to determine the car’s final set-up. Unfortunately, the state of the track prevented the French squad from doing so. It was still very slippery and dusty, which led to a large number of offs and red flags.
In such conditions, A1 Team France was not able to carry out all the technical evaluations necessary to achieve the ideal set-up. Loïc Duval went out after a good compromise had been found and was 5th-quickest overall in the first two qualifying segments, the position he will start from for the Sprint race. He fell back slightly in the next two and will start from 7th spot for the Feature race.
The team is not very happy with these results as it was expecting to be among the front-runners today. However, it has multiplied refuelling stop rehearsals to pull back places, and is also working on an aggressive strategy to gain an advantage over its rivals.
Olivier Panis, sporting director: “Once again, the times are very close this year, and our qualifying positions show that the slightest hitch in free practice can cost us dearly for the rest of the weekend. We lost running time yesterday and we were unable to make it up this morning. But the situation isn’t too bad as we’re starting from fifth and seventh places. So coming home with at least one rostrum finish is on the cards. That’ll be our aim!”
Loïc Duval, driver: “It’s been a very difficult day for the engineers and myself. Each time we modified the set-up, it was virtually impossible to judge whether what I experienced out on the track was down to the car or the changing conditions. We’ve solved our braking problems and I reckon we can look forward to a good result tomorrow. The track’ll be dirty and there’ll be a lot of mistakes so experience will make the difference. And that’s where I’ve got an advantage!”