A1 Team Monaco will start on the 8th row of the grid for the Sprint Race and in 17th position for the start of the Feature race after a downturn in fortune at the Taupo Motorsport Park in New Zealand.
The PowerBoost feature was not available for use in qualifying today. The new system was trialed at the previous round in Sepang where the teams had the option of using one joker-style ‘PowerBoost’ lap in qualifying, causing mixed grids for both the Sprint and Feature races. The series reverted to the original system for Taupo due to a mixed reaction to the PowerBoost feature, with further review taking place before the next round of the championship in South Africa.
During Free Practice 3 (FP3) Team Monaco was unable to improve on its fourth place achieved yesterday due to numerous red and yellow flag interruptions during the entire morning running. Clivio Piccione took to the tarmac as soon as the green light went on in the pitlane to take full advantage of the hour-long running and immediately set the fifth fastest lap time of 1:21.286. As the circuit rubbered in, Clivio was able to take three seconds off his initial quick lap time and the team held P8 until a series of further red and yellow flags interrupted the session on several occasions once again. With 30 minutes remaining on the clock Clivio pushed the car back up to P4 with a 1:16.835, however he was unable to improve on this time for the remainder of the session as a final red flag disrupted proceedings with only 15 minutes to go. Team Monaco ended Free Practice 3 in 15th position on the time sheet.
In the afternoon the Monegasque squad ventured out on track midway through SQ1 (Sprint race Qualifying Session 1). In a surge to record a lap time with all 19 teams out at once, Clivio pushed the car to improve on his morning’s practice time with a 1:16.424. In SQ2 he set a time of 1:16.917 and will start the Sprint race on the 8th row of the grid in 16th position tomorrow.
Clivio set a late hot lap of 1:16.735 to sit in 15th position at the end of FQ3, the first qualifying session for tomorrow’s Feature race. After the final five minutes respite the last qualifying segment got underway and Clivio left the Team Monaco garage with two minutes of the session remaining. After a yellow flag was raised towards the end of the running Clivio was only able to set a time of 1:31.700 to finish the segment in 17th position.
Clivio Piccione, Driver and Seat Holder: “In the morning we started where we had finished yesterday and the car felt alright from beginning. We had a few red flags and so we tried a few things to improve the car and in one direction it felt a little bit better. We also knew at that time that the tyres were at the end of their life as I was struggling for grip. Overall it was not a good practice session as we were not top of the time sheet, but we knew what we had to do. The start of qualifying was not perfect. I know that I could have been quicker on my first run as I made one mistake on braking and lost a bit of time. For SQ2 we put on a new set of tyres, but unfortunately we were not able to improve as someone ran wide in front of me and covered the track in dust. The car then felt worse and my feeling was that the new tyres were not as good as the old ones. So we went into FQ3 on an old set, with no expectations but to try some other changes, but we made no improvement. For our final run we changed the set-up to that from the beginning and the car felt a little better, but far from what I expected. The yellow flag towards the end of the run meant we had to back off, and that was it, game over. It is very disappointing considering our performance yesterday, and it’s going to be a tough day tomorrow.”
Graham Taylor, Team Principal: “We ran through our standard practice programme to follow on from yesterday. Once again there were a lot of red flags and interruptions, but we completed our plan. The ambient and track temperatures rose for qualifying and Clivio reported a lack of grip, even with new tyres. A yellow flag on Clivio’s last quick run necessitated our slowing down, as per regulation, so overall it was a disappointing day following the promise shown yesterday. We shall work overnight to overcome the problems and look forward to the races tomorrow.”