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Minardi test Monteiro, Friesacher and Nissany 23 Nov 2004

Patrick Friesacher (AUT) Formula One Testing, Minardi evaluate new drivers. 22-25 November 2004, Misano, Italy. World © Moy/Sutton Chanock Nissany (ISR) makes his debut in the Minardi Formula One Testing, Minardi evaluate new drivers. 22-25 November 2004, Misano, Italy Chanock Nissany (ISR) makes his debut in the Minardi Formula One Testing, Minardi evaluate new drivers. 22-25 November 2004, Misano, Italy. World © Moy/Sutton Tiago Montiero (POR) Formula One Testing, Minardi evaluate new drivers. 22-25 November 2004, Misano, Italy. World © Moy/Sutton

Minardi had three drivers on track on Monday as they began a five-day test session at Italy’s Misano circuit, aimed at trying out a number of Formula One hopefuls.

With two PS04Bs available, one was driven initially by Portuguese Tiago Monteiro, a veteran of several previous Minardi tests, who put in 20 laps with a best time of 1m 13.240s, as he worked on set-up.

"It was a great pleasure to be back in a Formula One car again, and I have to thank Paul Stoddart, Gian Carlo Minardi and the whole team for the opportunity they have given me today,” commented Monteiro. “I had never been to Misano before, so I spent the first couple of laps this morning just familiarising myself with the circuit. Initially, the conditions were very tricky, as the track surface was extremely dirty.

“The situation gradually improved, however, so we got on with testing several items and accumulating some useful information. I was also able to set the car up for the other drivers, who don't have any F1 experience. I'm very pleased to have been back with the Minardi team again, and now we have to work for the future. The next few days will be very important."

Monteiro then handed over the car to Formula 3000 star Patrick Friesacher for his maiden Formula One test. The Austrian driver completed 42 laps of Misano, setting the day’s best time with an impressive 1m 11.150s.

"To test a Formula One car is a great experience, and I have to thank the Minardi team and Paul Stoddart for this opportunity,” said Friesacher. “I was just amazed at the speed and the braking of the car when I went out on my first lap, but then, like all race cars, you start to get used to the performance. I think I had a good day and I hope the team is pleased with the job I did."

The second Minardi chassis was allocated to Israeli driver Chanoch Nissany. An official Formula 3000 test driver with Coloni Motorsport in 2004, Nissany previously tested with Jordan back in July. He put in 41 laps with a best of 1m 14.780s and will continue testing on Tuesday.

"At the beginning of the test, the track was not in great condition, but the car was behaving well despite this,” he said. “The surface and the grip improved in the afternoon and the car had a good set-up, which allowed me to get a clear feel for the performance. With the experience I have accumulated today, I hope to improve further tomorrow."

Summing up Minardi’s first day at Misano, team manager Massimo Rivola said: "The plan today was to keep set-up changes to a minimum and allow the drivers - particularly Patrick and Chanoch - to get some experience driving a Formula One car in race configuration. On that basis, I think we have had a very good day, and I want to thank all the drivers for their efforts.

“Tiago undoubtedly had the toughest job, as he went out first on a cold and dirty track. As we have seen before, though, he approached the situation with great maturity, by starting carefully and then steadily reducing his lap times as he worked on finding a good chassis set-up.

“Chanock lost about 45 minutes this morning, while a potential problem with his car was checked out, but he went on to do a very solid job, especially considering he has only been racing for two years. Patrick was particularly impressive, starting off with laps of 1 min 15 secs and then building up speed quickly. Once he got to the limit, he put in some consistently fast laps.”

Joining Nissany on Tuesday will be Australian youngsters Will Power and Will Davidson, both of whom were promised tests by Minardi boss Paul Stoddart at this year’s Australian Grand Prix.

Ferrari were also in testing action on Monday, with Andrea Bertolini carrying out straight-line aerodynamic work with an F2004 at Vairano. The Ferrari Maserati Group's test driver will continue the programme on Tuesday.