Saturday June 23rd, 2001
Serious understeering problems hampered Jean Alesi's progress in Saturday's qualifying session for the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, and the veteran Frenchman had to settle for fourteenth place on the grid.
The Prost driver, who has finished in the points in the last two Grands Prix in Monaco and Canada, struggled for front end grip during the hour-long session and was then unable to complete a fast lap when David Coulthard went off the track in the dying seconds of qualifying.
However, after a strong practice both on Friday and Saturday, Alesi was looking forward to a good race.
"Unfortunately, my car never felt like this morning during qualifying and I suffered more oversteering with the first three sets of tyres than in practice," said Alesi. "Besides, on my third and fastest lap, I had to overtake an Arrows and when I went out with the last set of tyres, it was right when there were three yellow flags waved and a lot of traffic.
"This is obviously not the kind of qualifying position I was hoping for but the first two days of practice give me confidence we can be as strong in tomorrow’s race as we have been in the last two Grands Prix."
Luciano Burti again struggled with the second Prost, the Brazilian finishing today's session almost a whole second behind his teammate. Burti, who was seventeenth quickest, was forced to take the spare car halfway through the session and, being set-up for Alesi, he was unable to improve.
"To be honest I am not really happy with this qualifying session," Burti said. "The car felt good this morning during free practice. Unfortunately, I had a fuel pressure problem on my race car and had to switch to the T-car which was set for Jean.
"Its behaviour was quite different and it was impossible for me to improve my first qualifying laptime. I's a shame because we have been very close with Jean since the start of the weekend and I believe it would have been the same this afternoon without this problem. However, I am not worried at all for tomorrow."