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Drivers Baffled by lack of Pace

Several drivers were left scratching their heads after final qualifying in Montreal, finding that their cars were handling well but they had made little impression on the overall classification

Paul Tracy was a case in point: The Canadian declared himself satisfied with the behaviour of his Forsythe Championship Racing Lola but qualified only fifth, six-tenths of a second adrift of pole man Sebastien Bourdais.

"There's nothing wrong with my car," said Tracy. "The balance is good, it's good under braking, it goes over the kerbs pretty well.

"It's just that the Newman/Haas cars have something on us, and the rest of the pack is within a couple of tenths."

Farther down the grid it was much the same story. PKV Racing duo Cristiano da Matta and Jimmy Vasser slipped from fifth and sixth respectively in provisional qualifying to eighth and ninth in the final line-up, but were unable to pinpoint any specific problems.

"The Gulfstream/PKV Racing team made progress in every session this weekend, even in final qualifying, but I guess we did not make as much progress as I thought we had," reflected Vasser.

"It isn't anything I can put my finger on right now. Cristiano and I are just going to have to sit down with the PKV Racing engineers, analyse the data and see what improvements we can make for the race."

Rookie Timo Glock, who set the 11th fastest time, said: "It's very difficult to figure out what the problem is. The DHL Global Mail car is not in bad shape; it has a good balance and handles well.

"If this was a test and we were out there on our own, with no other cars and times to compare ourselves with, I'd be pretty satisfied.

"But something is missing - something major, that teams like Newman/Haas and RuSPORT have found and we have not."

Some of the drivers' puzzlement may be explained by the new track surface at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The 2.709-mile island circuit was repaved prior to June's Canadian Formula One Grand Prix but the surface didn't cure in time so concrete patches were put down on several crucial corners.

These initially offered precious little adhesion and left the drivers cursing the handling of their cars. But as rubber has been laid down over the course of the weekend, they have picked up a lot of grip, leading most drivers to conclude their cars have improved - irrespective of their pace relative to the competition.

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