European Minardi Cosworth this afternoon concluded a highly successful three-day test at the Vallelunga circuit, the team's engineers completing an extensive technical programme, many aspects of which will contribute directly to establishing the final specification of the 2004 European Minardi chassis.

Today, India's Narain Karthikeyan and Austrian, Norbert Siedler, joined the Faenza squad's 2003 test driver, Gianmaria Bruni.

Karthikeyan was first out on track this morning, successfully completing an engine evaluation programme for the team before a mechanical problem intervened.

"It was great to be back in a Formula One car, even if it was only for some laps this morning," said Karthikeyan, "I'd particularly like to thank Paul Stoddart and the team for giving me this opportunity, and I hope today's test will now encourage some of India's major corporations to get behind me and support my efforts to secure a Formula One seat in 2004."

Following a scheduled engine change, the young Indian driver handed over to Siedler, who after some initial acclimatisation runs - the Vallelunga test marked his first run in an F1 car - worked impressively through a programme that included engine and differential mapping, suspension geometry assessment and tyre evaluation.

"This was a really great experience," commented Siedler, "It was impressive to drive the F1 car, especially for the first five laps or so, as the speed was incredible, and the brakes, too. I had great fun, and I wish to thank my sponsor, Superfund, for supporting me so well. This was a fantastic Christmas present for me."

Bruni meanwhile, who was at the wheel of chassis PS03/03 throughout Friday, concentrated on data verification relating to aerodynamics, electronics, engine mapping and braking. He also carried out tyre evaluation for the team's technical partner, Bridgestone.

"I had not driven the Minardi PS03 for two-and-a-half months, and I was really looking forward to testing here in Vallelunga," noted Bruni, "I am pretty satisfied with what we have accomplished, as we ran trouble-free for the whole day, and at the end of the session, I had covered more than 400 kms. It has been a busy and demanding day as far as the test is concerned, and I'm happy with the work we've done with the team's engineers."

John Walton, Minardi's sporting director, concluded: "Over the course of the three days, it has been very interesting to work with six different drivers. They have all been highly impressive in terms of both technical understanding and driving ability, and I'm sure each has a bright future in motor racing ahead of him.

"In terms of the test, we covered approximately 2000kms in total, which is impressive considering we lost time on the first day with adverse weather conditions. We enjoyed great reliability with both chassis, and the engineers have come away with a massive amount of data. This will obviously be analysed back at the factory as we develop our 2004 car.

"I'd like to express our thanks to all the drivers for the great job they've done. There were only two minor spins over the three days, and neither caused any damage. All told, it has been a very good test."

Leading times (12 December) - Vallelunga:

1. Gianmaria Bruni Minardi-Cosworth PS03 1m 02.216s 130 laps B
2. Norbert Siedler Minardi-Cosworth PS03 1m 04.305s 47 laps B
3. Narain Karthikeyan Minardi-Cosworth PS03 1m 08.500s N/A laps B#

# - denotes only on track in the morning.
B - denotes Bridgestone tyres

Weather / track conditions: Cloudy in the morning, partly cloudy with sunny spells later.

 

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