If the switch from Nelson Piquet Jr to Christian Fittipaldi was supposed to boost the fortunes of A1 Team Brazil at the eighth round of the World Cup of Motorsport, it has shown little signs of doing so, as the more experienced driver struggled to get to grip with an unfamiliar car and circuit in qualifying at Sentul.

Fittipaldi, competing in his first event for the team and with no testing under his belt, only had his first outing in the dry at the start of qualifying and had to continue his learning process under the glare of the stopwatch. Although less than two seconds from the fastest time in final free practice, the former F1 and CART pilot was unable to close the gap in the aggregated qualifying session, and posted times good enough only for 21st place on the 23-car grid.

"Unfortunately, I needed some more miles in the dry, which we didn't get," Fittipaldi, the nephew of team boss Emerson, sighed, "We ran the first set of new tyres in the dry in qualifying, and that's what killed me.

"The other guys here have had a lot of testing miles, whereas I haven't been in a single-seater for three years. I'm sure that, if it was wet, we would have been in the top ten, but to qualify in the dry was hard. The qualifying system wasn't difficult to adjust to, as it's pretty much the same in NASCAR, but the car is completely different."

Despite the disappointment of qualifying so far down the order, Fittipaldi remained confident that he could fight back over Sunday's two races, which he will use to build experience of the A1 car in time for the next two outings on more familiar ground.

"We have made a couple of good changes to the car, and I understand it more and more," he insisted, "I am sure that we will be good for Mexico and Laguna Seca."



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