Tall order but Justin out to make rivals eat dust

  • Other Sport
  • Saturday, 22 Mar 2003

ROOKIE Justin Wilson is the tallest F1 driver at 6ft 3in and he is well aware that he has a tall order to bring Minardi to greater heights at the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix. 

But after a trouble free run in the qualifying round, Wilson, the 2001 Formula 3000 champion, is optimistic that he would be able to finish the race at the Sepang F1 Circuit on Sunday. 

Yesterday, the 24-year-old Briton, who retired at Albert Park only after 16 laps in his maiden race, posted a time of 1:39.354 to finish 19 in the single-lap qualifying round. 

He finished just one rung behind his more established teammate Jos Verstappen. 

The Northampton-based driver's time was the third best among the four rookies competing in F1. Panasonic Toyota Racing's Cristiano Da Matta came in 11th and Jordan's Ralph Firman will start today's qualifying round at 17th position. However, Antonio Pizzanio of the Jaguar team was not able to complete the one lap session due to mechanical problems. 

Wilson was happy that his first ever race in Malaysia got off to a good start despite the hot condition. 

“I have never been to Malaysia before and it is my first race here. I am happy on what I did here today despite the hot weather. It will be more competitive tomorrow (today) but we will try our best to win points for Minardi this season,” said Wilson. 

He said that his height was not a problem in his racing career. 

“It was difficult for me before I got a place to drive in F1. But once I am in it has not been a problem. But alteration have to be made to the car to accommodate my height,” said Wilson, who started racing at eight. 

“When I was younger, it was easier to make the adjustment in the car now that I was in F1, the cars are a little bit tighter and so more things need to be done. 

“I got use to my height after a while but I found it very amusing when a picture of all four rookies were taken at the Melbourne GP. Cristiano was so tiny,” said Wilson, flashing a big smile. 

Wilson would have made his debut in Hungary last season if he was a little shorter. But his countrymen Anthony Davidson got the opportunity because Wilson's frame could not fit into the Minardi cockpit then. 

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