Team Brazil's rotten run of luck continued in the latest round of A1GP in Mexico City last weekend, as Bruno Junqueira came away empty-handed from a meeting that had promised so much more.

Following a strong qualifying performance - making full use of prior knowledge of a circuit that none of the other drivers had previously encountered - the Champ Car ace lined up seventh on the grid for the sprint race, the first time the squad has broken into the top ten all season. Unfortunately, that was to be as good as it got.

A lightning start saw Junqueira grab fourth position off the line, but a nudge from the Mexican entry subsequently sent him spinning down the straight and clattering into Team Germany. Although he managed to nurse the car back to the pits, the damage would prove to be terminal.

Thus forced to begin the longer feature race from the back of the grid, Junqueira worked his way up to 17th, only to come unstuck when attempting a pass on Narain Karthikeyan and spinning back down to 19th again. He would eventually claw his way back up through the order once more, but 13th place at the chequered flag - just over a second shy of the points - was far from what had been hoped for at the outset of the weekend.

"It was a really difficult race," the 30-year-old acknowledged. "Everything started in the sprint. I made a good start but then I was hit by Salvador (Duran), so I started from the back in the feature race. I went past a few guys, but I tried to save the PowerBoost. Then I tried to pass India and the car went sideways in second gear and I nearly stalled, so I lost out a bit there.

"I had a good fight with India after that, and eventually I went past and stayed ahead. When I had a free track ahead for the first time, the car was good and I was setting lap times faster than the leaders. It's a real shame as we had a car that could fight for a podium and we didn't end up doing that."

Team principal Emerson Fittipaldi was also frustrated by the outcome, citing it as a case of what might have been.

"I was very unhappy with the sprint race," the former Formula 1 World Champion and Indy 500 winner asserted. "Bruno made a fantastic start; he was already up to fourth and then Salvador hit him from behind and took him out of the race. Bruno was already ahead so Salvador should have backed off, but instead he ruined our race.

"The results were unfortunate because we had a good weekend up until then. We had great pace in the race though - sometimes we were running faster than the leaders when Bruno had a clear track. The sprint race upset the whole weekend, because we had a car and driver able to be on the podium. Bruno is a true racer though, and I hope he can race well for us in Shanghai and Brands Hatch."

 

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