Benetton endure disastrous qualifying

The Benetton team had a nightmare qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps after technical problems with both cars left drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Alex Wurz to take turns in the one spare chassis

Benetton endure disastrous qualifying

Fisichella came out of the situation best, ending the hour in 11th place despite having not even set a qualifying time with just five minutes of the session remaining. Wurz will start 19th however.

Team boss Flavio Briatore summed it up as a "disastrous qualifying!"

"The only positive thing to come out of today was the miraculous job the mechanics did to get both Alex and Giancarlo out in the T-car," he added. "Considering the circumstances the drivers did a good job too."

The problems began when Wurz's engine blew as he neared the end of his first flying lap. He was able to go out in the T-car, but only had time to complete one run before an unrelated engine problem on Fisichella's car forced the Italian to return to the pits on foot.

Wurz had to sit out the rest of the session while the mechanics changed the car back to Fisichella's settings, eventually getting him out on track with just minutes to spare.

"On my first run my first split was faster than Hakkinen, who is now on pole," said Wurz. "What can I say! The T-car wasn't set up for me and had too much oversteer."

Technical director Pat Symonds praised Fisichella's performance.

"He performed admirably," Symonds said, "driving a car with a different set-up and knowing that he had to get into the race with a safe lap but at the same time be competitive. Circumstances like that, while of course unwelcome, are a credit to the team because of the way they handled them."

Benetton now lies fourth in the constructors' championship, having failed to score since Fisichella's second place in Canada over two months ago.

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