Post a successful practice session yesterday; Narain Karthikeyan and the engineers of A1 Team India formed a very promising set up of the car and qualified seventh for the feature race and tenth for the sprint race today at the qualifying session of A1GP – World Cup of Motor Sport here in Sepang.
Team India qualified seventh for the feature race clocking a fastest lap time at 1m 51.168s while team Switzerland took pole position at a phenomenal 1m 47.154s.
In the Sprint Race Qualifying session; Narain came in 10th position with the best lap time of 1m 49.350s without the use of Power Boost. In the 1st Sprint Race A1 Team India was the second quickest who didn’t use Power Boost. They were preceded by Team Great Britain also was not using Power Boost. The overall pole position for the Sprint qualifying went to Team Ireland.
In heat of 30 degrees Celsius with humidity of 66%, the A1GP drivers were pushed to their limits this afternoon as they took to the demanding Sepang International Circuit.
The A1 teams also had the first chance to play a PowerBoost ‘joker’ in qualifying today, with a new rule aimed at adding a new strategic element to Saturdays. The functionality of the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car allows for the PowerBoost button to be available for an entire lap of Qualifying, and teams will be allowed to use it for one of their four flying laps. The PowerBoost button gives an extra 60bhp on application, so the ability to use it throughout a lap is likely to make a significant difference to the car’s capability.
While observing lead driver of A1 Team India; Narain Karthikeyan, one can feel the confidence he has in the new engineering team and the cars performance. He said; “Even though the weather let us down it was a good run on track. The introduction of Power Boost in the Qualifying round mixed the whole feel and effect making it very interesting and more strategic. The team has been performing very well and practicing hard every day even though the scorching heat drains everyone’s energy. Tomorrow we are hoping for it to be a wet and rainy day.’
Team India’s race engineer Greg Wheeler said; “I am satisfied with the sprint Qualifying as the gained places quickly towards a point position in the sprint race. In the feature race we ran on new tyres. There was a little loss of timing in the 1st and last sector but despite all that I am very confident in Narain as a racer. The team has been working continuously and perfecting their pit stop time.”
Team Principle Piers Hunnisett is very happy and positive at the end of the day. “We are using data from yesterday and tried changes in the car and went through programming engineer setup. Team India is still early on the learning curve compared to other teams which have had more track time as to how the car reacts with every change made. The car is very responsive to set up change and Narain is learning how to extract the most from every second in the car. It was the first time that a Power Boost was used in a full lap. The last lap was fairly clean and could have picked up more time. It is nice to have qualified 7th which is an odd number as this position gives us the inside line in the 1st corner tomorrow.”
With the weather also a factor in tomorrow’s races and with two very different looking grids, both races look set to be just as thrilling as today’s qualifying sessions.