Minardi begins driver shoot-out

Minardi's giant driver test at Misano kicked off on Monday with Tiago Monteiro, Patrick Friesacher and Chanock Nissany the first of 13 drivers to take part in the marathon session

Minardi begins driver shoot-out

Minardi has yet to sign drivers up for its 2005 campaign and has organised a huge five-day session in Italy to evaluate a number of drivers.

World Series by Nissan runner-up Monteiro shared one car with International F3000 race winner Freisacher. The Portuguese driver has tested for Minardi before and was thus assigned to set the car up for Freisacher. Isreali driver Nissany, who tested for Jordan earlier this year, drove the second car.

"It was a great pleasure to be back in an F1 car again," said Monteiro. "I had never been to Misano before, so I spent the first couple of laps this morning just familiarising myself with the circuit.

"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."

The test gave Friesacher his first experience of F1: "To test an F1 car is a great experience. 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."

Nissany will continue testing for the team on Tuesday, while Monteiro and Freisacher will hand over to Australian F3 duo Will Power and Will Davison.

"The plan today was to keep set-up changes to a minimum and allow the drivers - particularly Patrick [Friesacher] and Chanock [Nissany] - to get some experience. On that basis, I think we have had a very good day," said Minardi's team manager Massimo Rivola. "Tiago [Monteiro] 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 1m15s and then building up speed quickly. Once he got to the limit, he put in some consistently fast laps."

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