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UNOFFICIAL F3000 INFORMATION

 FIA International F3000 Round 7: A-1 Ring (A), 15th July 2000

 

QUALIFYING:

Heavy rain typical of the A1-Ring meant grid positions were decided in the final minutes of the second session. As the track dried, it was Belgium's Jeffrey van Hooydonk who timed his lap perfectly and took his and Witmeur KTR's first ever pole position. In the moments before Franck Montagny (DAMS), Darren Manning (Arden Team Russia) and David Saelens (Super Nova) all headed the field as times continued to tumble. Saelens eventually joined van Hooydonk on the front row, with Mark Webber (European Arrows) and Nicolas Minassian (Super Nova) making up row two. The lottery of the conditions meant Soheil Ayari (Coloni), who took provisional pole early in the first session before the rain began to fall heavily, dropped to 13th place in the final five minutes of the second session. Webber had better fortune, climbing to third from 20th in the first session. Championship leader Bruno Junqueira (Petrobras Junior) ended the day in a disastrous 20th place, complaining of being baulked by Kevin McGarrity. With his closest title challenger Minassian at the head of the field, he would face a hard challenge the following day to prevent his 10-point lead being cut. Virtually the entire field suffered off-track excursions at some point or other, with one driver in particular having a lot to learn all at once.

Before the Austrian race Formula 3000 had been in the news for a number of driver changes. The most significant occurred at McLaren junior, The mySAP.com Team finally losing patience with Stephane Sarrazin. Despite topping pre-season test times and being considered Junqueira's main rival for the title, the Frenchman had only managed to score three points in six races this season. Tomas Scheckter, son of 1979 F1 World Champion Jody, was the surprise choice as his replacement. Scheckter, racing for Stewart in British F3, has found it difficult to keep Antonio Pizzonia from running away with the title, and although he will race in all the remaining F3 rounds it appears he has decided his chances of the championship are over. A one-off Italian F3000 race with Da Vinci at Monza showed that he was capable of handling the extra power, finishing a strong second on his debut. Against the more competitive International field it would not be so easy, with just one acclimatization session at Pembrey in Wales in the Lola B99/50 behind him. In the first session he finished 28th and stalled after an off, but in the second he got it together to qualify 19th, outpacing Junqueira.

Another driver change took place in the Astromega team which had decided to let go of Fabrice Walfisch. The Frenchman, who had persuaded the team to source another chassis from Lola after complaining about the handling of his own, was sacked after the change produced no upturn in form at Magny-Cours where he had a number of offs. Belgian veteran Marc Goossens, who won two races for the team in 1996, was brought in as replacement. The team are desperate to score their first points of 2000 as the bottom three teams at the end of the season risk relegation in favour of teams from the Italian F3000 series. Goossens tested at Heist-Op-Den-Burg the Monday before the race. WRT was the third and final team to change its line-up before the weekend. Marc Hynes, on a race-by-race deal with the team, had to be stood down as he couldn't afford to race on. Dino Morelli, most recently in International F3000 with Coloni for part of last season, was brought in as a replacement after team-boss Gabriele Rafanelli considered the possibility of signing Sarrazin. Morelli had impressed in the recent A1-Ring tests for Astromega. He had also returned to Italian F3000 in place of Giovanni Montanari at the Durango Benetton Junior Team in round 4 at Monza, where he failed to start with a gearbox failure. In his sponsorship-free white Lola, he struggled in the rain at the A1-Ring and had numerous spins before ending the day 30th and in non-qualification. Later it was diagnosed that brake problems in the second session were the fault of the team which apologised to the Ulsterman. Justin Wilson (Nordic) qualified in 11th position, buoyed by a new sponsorship deal Nordic made with Coca-Cola, its logo becoming the principal one on Wilson's car for the remainder of the year. The non-qualifiers at the A1-Ring were Fabrizio Gollin, Kristian Kolby (for the fourth consecutive time), McGarrity and Morelli.

RACE: MINASSIAN SETS UP TWO-WAY TITLE FIGHT

Nicolas Minassian took a controlled victory at the A1-Ring, benefitting from the front row throwing away their chances at the start of the race. Before the red lights went out, pole-man Jeffrey van Hooydonk jumped the start only for second-placed David Saelens to instinctively follow. The race start went ahead as it was too late to cancel the procedure, but the two race leaders were racing in artificial positions and it was only a matter of time before they were called in for 10-second penalties. Saelens took the artificial lead only to be re-passed by van Hooydonk.

At the start Mark Webber stayed in third, which was effectively the race lead, Minassian chasing him in fourth. The duo battled hard, swapping places twice before Minassian took the lead for the final time. At the end of lap 1 Franck Montagny called into the pits for a new nose, having made contact with Darren Manning in turn 1. Further down the field, Tomas Scheckter's debut was effectively ended when he spun after a nudge from Andreas Scheld into the final corner. The South African came in to the pits and climbed out of his car, but was later sent out again to gain some vital experience. van Hooydonk and Saelens both came in to serve their penalties on the same lap, promoting Minassian into a lead he was able to control for the remainder of the race. Although there was no battle for the lead, the action behind was spectacular throughout the race, continuing right to the race's end. Behind the leader, Webber was dropping back through the pack, passed by Manning, Sebastien Bourdais and Christijan Albers. Justin Wilson meanwhile had been fighting up the order since the start, being promoted into the points when the leaders pitted for their penalties. At the tail of the field Scheld attacked Soheil Ayari into turn 3, Maslov ploughing into Scheld's spinning car. Only Ayari was able to rejoin the race. Yves Olivier was then forced off the track by Ananda Mikola in the typically fraught lower reaches of the field.

Wilson continued to carve through the field, passing Albers for fourth place, while championship leader Bruno Junqueira had made his way up into 12th from 20th on the grid, desperate to score points to maintain a championship lead. Bourdais had the pace to attack Manning for second, but at the Remus curve he attempted to go round the outside of the Englishman only to run wide onto the grass, allowing Wilson through into third.

Then, further down the field an incident caused the safety car to emerge. Andre Couto spun into the final corner, while Albers was also forced to take to the gravel. Attempting to keep momentum and accelerate back onto the track, Albers lost control and spun towards the pitlane before stalling. A repeat of the Mario Haberfeld Barcelona crash was narrowly avoided, the driver who just missed him unbelievably being Andrea Piccini. The Italian had harpooned Haberfeld's car at Barcelona and also ran into the back of McGarrity's car at Silverstone. Fortunately this time he avoided being involved in someone else's accident.

At the restart Minassian led from Manning, Wilson, Bourdais and Webber. Wilson immediately dealt with Manning by diving past him. He then set about chasing down leader Minassian, pulling alongside the Frenchman and racing with him for the best part of a lap before Minassian again pulled out a lead. Behind Bourdais ran wide at a left-hander and allowed Webber through into fourth. Then Jaime Melo Jr forced his way past the young French driver into turn 1, pushing him onto the gravel. Bourdais then dropped swiftly down the field on dirty tyres. In the lower reaches of the top 10, Junqueira was steadily climbing the order. He passed Leinders into 7th place, with Haberfeld then all over the Belgian. Leinders' team-mate Piccini then attacked Haberfeld only to spin at turn 2 while trying to pass the Brazilian. One lap later at the same corner Tomas Enge dived down Piccini's inside only to take his nose off on the Kid Jensen Racing car. Enge was forced to pit but resumed racing, the second McLaren driver whose day turned into an extended test session. Red Bull Junior's Ricardo Mauricio had a similar day. Fuel pressure problems saw the car cut out when driving round to the grid. Once the race was well underway he was sent out from the pit-lane to do a few laps in the teams "home" race.

Junqueira was now chasing Fernando Alonso for sixth. Both were desperate for the final point, Junqueira to prevent Minassian equalling his points tally and Alonso to score his and his Astromega team's first point of the season, a point that could be crucial in preventing relegation for the 2001 season. Haberfeld finally passed Leinders and took his eighth place. A spectacular three-abreast fight in the midfield then took place between Marc Goossens, van Hooydonk and Bourdais. Ultimately Bourdais lost out again, being forced to take to the grass. Saelens then spun out into the gravel from the tail of the field, another poor result from a driver who has developed a tendency to throw away good qualifying performances in the race.

The safety car was sent out for the second time when Ayari and Piccini collided in the penultimate corner, much to Piccini's distress. When it pulled off the track there were just six laps to go. Mauricio, in second on the road but many laps down, tried to keep out of everyone's way but ultimately ensured that Minassian was under no threat from Wilson behind, and was able to keep the lead until the chequered flag. Manning initially put pressure on Wilson for second, but with four laps to go it was Manning who came under attack from Webber who almost passed into turn 2. Webber stayed on his tail for the remainder of the race. In the same corner Junqueira managed to pass Alonso with the assistance of team-mate Melo Jr and the lapped car of Mauricio. Ultimately the young Spaniard Alonso won the battle, retaking sixth place by the flag after Junqueira locked up at turn 4.

Minassian took the win from Wilson and Manning, the two Brits again together on the podium as at Silverstone. Without a doubt it was Wilson's strongest ever showing in F3000. Webber took fourth ahead of Melo Jr and Alonso. It was a well deserved point for Alonso, who all year has shown flair and talent considering his age and lack of experience and who was robbed of a strong finish at Magny-Cours. Junqueira's failure to score for the second consecutive race sets up a thrilling prospect for round 8 at Hockenheim. With just three races remaining, Junqueira and Minassian share the series lead with Webber only a mathematical chance of the title. Hockenheim, the scene of Junqueira's maiden win in 1999, will show whether Junqueira can reverse his fortunes and resume the form he showed earlier in the season.

 

QUALIFYING:

Pos

Driver

Team

Time

1

Jeffrey van Hooydonk (B)

Witmeur KTR

 1m33.336s

2

David Saelens (B)

Super Nova

+ 0.193s

3

Mark Webber (AUS)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

 + 0.440s

4

Nicolas Minassian (F)

Super Nova

 + 0.479s

5

Jaime Melo Jr (BR)

Petrobras Junior

 + 0.878s

6

Christijan Albers (NL)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

 + 0.933s

7

Darren Manning (GB)

Arden Team Russia

 + 0.997s

8

Franck Montagny (F)

DAMS

 + 1.268s

9

Sebastien Bourdais (F)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

 + 1.435s

10

Tomas Enge (CZ)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

 + 1.493s

11

Justin Wilson (GB)

Nordic

 + 1.798s

12

Ricardo Mauricio (BR)

Red Bull Junior

 + 1.947s

13

Soheil Ayari (F)

Coloni

 + 2.083s

14

Marc Goossens (B)

Astromega

 + 2.114s

15

Fernando Alonso (E)

Astromega

 + 2.380s

16

Enrique Bernoldi (BR)

Red Bull Junior

 + 2.489s

17

Bas Leinders (B)

Kid Jensen Racing

 + 2.498s

18

Andre Couto (MAC)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

 + 2.563s

19

Tomas Scheckter (ZA)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

 + 2.748s

20

Bruno Junqueira (BR)

Petrobras Junior

 + 2.785s

21

Viktor Maslov (RUS)

Arden

 + 2.787s

22

Ananda Mikola (RI)

WRT

 + 2.976s

23

Mario Haberfeld (BR)

Fortec

 + 3.220s

24

Andreas Scheld (D)

Fortec

 + 3.355s

25

Yves Olivier (B)

Witmeur KTR

 + 3.568s

26

Andrea Piccini (I)

Kid Jensen Racing

 + 4.240s

Non-qualifiers:

27

Fabrizio Gollin (I)

Coloni

 + 4.341s

28

Kristian Kolby (DK)

DAMS

 + 4.459s

29

Kevin McGarrity (GB)

Nordic

 + 5.204s

30

Dino Morelli (GB)

WRT

 + 6.101s

(All cars Lola B99/50-Zytek)

 

RACE RESULT:

Final classification, A-1 Ring (A), 48 laps - 207.648km

Pos

Driver

Team

Time

1

Nicolas Minassian (F)

Super Nova

1hr 10m 42.354s

2

Justin Wilson (GB)

Nordic

+ 1.414s

3

Darren Manning (GB)

Arden Team Russia

+ 5.908s

4

Mark Webber (AUS)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

+ 6.135s

5

Jaime Melo Jr (BR)

Petrobras Junior

+ 6.950s

6

Fernando Alonso (E)

Astromega

+ 7.221s 

7

Bruno Junqueira (BR)

Petrobras Junior

+ 8.543s

8

Mario Haberfeld (BR)

Fortec

+ 8.926s

9

Sebastien Bourdais (F)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

+ 9.319s

10

Marc Goossens (B)

Astromega

+ 10.168s

11

Bas Leinders (B)

Kid Jensen Racing

1h 10m 53.936s

12

Jeffrey van Hooydonk (B)

Witmeur KTR

1h10m54.593

13

Yves Olivier (B)

Witmeur KTR

1h10m58.727

14

Enrique Bernoldi (BR)

Red Bull Junior

1h11m00.012

15

Ananda Mikola (RI)

WRT

1h11m12.771

16

Tomas Enge (CZ)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

- 1 lap

17

Franck Montagny (F)

DAMS

- 2 laps 

NC

Tomas Scheckter (ZA)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

- 8 laps 

R

Soheil Ayari (F)

Coloni

39 laps; collision

R

Andrea Piccini (I)

Kid Jensen Racing

39 laps; collision

R

David Saelens (B)

Super Nova

35 laps; spin

R

Ricardo Mauricio (BR)

Red Bull Junior

12 laps; not classified

R

Christijan Albers (NL)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

12 laps; spin

R

Andre Couto (MAC)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

11 laps; spin

R

Andreas Scheld (D)

Fortec

4 laps; collision

R

Viktor Maslov (RUS)

Arden

3 laps; collision

Fastest Lap: Enge

(All cars Lola B99/50-Zytek) Key: R=Retired, NC=not classified, dq=disqualified

(All cars Lola B99/50-Zytek)

 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Standings after Round 7 of 10

Pos

Driver

Team

Points

1=

Bruno Junqueira (BR)

Petrobras Junior

38

 

Nicolas Minassian (F)

Super Nova

38

3

Mark Webber (AUS)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

17

4=

David Saelens (B)

Super Nova

12

 

Justin Wilson (GB)

Nordic

12

6

Darren Manning (GB)

Arden

10

7

Sebastien Bourdais (F)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

9

8

Fabrizio Gollin (I)

Coloni

7

9

Jamie Davies (GB)

Fortec

6

10

Jaime Melo Jr. (BR)

Petrobras Junior

6

11

Franck Montagny (F)

DAMS

5

12=

Andre Couto (MAC)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

4

 

Tomas Enge (CZ)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

4

14=

Kevin McGarrity (GB)

Nordic

3

 

Stephane Sarrazin (F)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

3

 

Enrique Bernoldi (BR)

Red Bull Junior

3

 

Jeffrey van Hooydonk (B)

Witmeur KTR

3

18=

Soheil Ayari (F)

Coloni

1

Fernando Alonso (E)

Astromega

1

Scoring: 10-6-4-3-2-1.

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