Japanese GP wasn't easy for Minardi
10 October 2004 –
After the dramatic weather generated by an approaching typhoon that caused Saturday's programme to be cancelled on safety grounds, the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix turned out to be a much quieter affair for Minardi Cosworth. Despite never having raced at Suzuka previously, and having had only Friday's two wet practice sessions to acclimatise themselves to the demands of one of motor racing's most challenging circuits, Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner both put in solid performances when it came to this afternoon's race, which, ironically, was run in dry, sunny conditions.
Bruni made a good start, enjoyed three problem-free pit stops and took the chequered flag in 16th place. "It turned out to be quite an uneventful race, but it was good to finish here at Suzuka, as that is always the first ambition of the team," Bruni said. "We struggled with the package we have, though, and in particular today with oversteer, but I'm looking forward to Brazil now and hoping to get another solid finish there."
Baumgartner launched into his first Japanese Grand Prix from the pit lane after failing to set a time in the morning qualifying session, but soon settled into a good race rhythm. Unfortunately, the event came to a premature end for him on the 45th lap, when he spun at turn five just after his third, and final, scheduled pit stop. "Overall, it was not my weekend here at Suzuka, although my pace in the race wasn't too bad, especially considering I had never driven in the dry here before," said Baumgartner. "I like high-speed circuits, which is probably why I got used to this one quite quickly. Unfortunately, I made a mistake while pushing really hard after my final stop and went off the track. I'm upset not to have finished, particularly for the guys, as I caused them quite a lot of work this weekend. I'd like to thank them for their efforts."
Minardi team principal Paul Stoddart commented: "In what proved to be a difficult weekend for Minardi, it was satisfying at least to get one car home, with Gimmi taking the chequered flag. Both drivers drove solid races, although Zsolt unfortunately spun off just after making his final pit stop of the afternoon and failed to finish."