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Minardi surprise with qualifying tactics. 08 Mar 2003

Justin Wilson (GBR) Minardi Cosworth PS03 
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 8 March 2003

Before Saturday's final qualifying session, all the talk was of the smaller teams running low fuel loads to improve their qualifying position. Minardi however turned the new qualifying system on its head by pulling both its drivers into the pits without setting a qualifying time.

The tactic employed by Paul Stoddart's team means that the Minardi cars will not go into parc ferme over night and the team is therefore free to work on them before the race. As part of the new rules, all cars which qualify for the race must stay in parc ferme over night and may not be refuelled or modified by the teams. This rule was introduced to stop teams developing special light cars for the qualifying session.

Minardi has had very little pre-season testing and has employed this tactic in order to give the team more time to prepare for Sunday's race. Team boss Paul Stoddart confirmed this saying, "We needed to work on these cars tonight."

As for the 107% rule, because no time was set today, the Minardi drivers will be attributed the times they set in yesterday's qualifying session which were both within the limit. Certainly this was the understanding of Paul Stoddart who revealed he had sought clarification that his tactics were legitimate before the qualifying session began.