By Erica Southey - Motorsport.com Instead of the customary opening of the track by the Minardis, it was Kimi Raikkonen who came out to do a clean lap, setting the pace for the rest of the runners. His provisional pole didn't last long, though,...
By Erica Southey - Motorsport.com
Instead of the customary opening of the track by the Minardis, it was Kimi Raikkonen who came out to do a clean lap, setting the pace for the rest of the runners. His provisional pole didn't last long, though, as Michael Schumacher came out and did a fast lap. Hitting a damp patch with the car getting a little out of shape, Michael corrected the car and still managed to put the red Ferrari .759 seconds ahead of the second runner.
It was a duel between Michael and the McLarens of Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard. Coulthard came out to challenge Michael's time, but was already over .300 seconds down and it appeared that there was no way he could find it to bump Michael off pole. As the precious seconds ticked by, Coulthard managed to find over .300 seconds and another .300 seconds more to put his McLaren in pole. His position changed quickly when a clearly more confident Häkkinen came out and shattered the time by putting his McLaren on pole in the mid 1 minute 20s. Shumacher Snr then came back to reclaim the pole. Häkkinen's answer came up .082 seconds short.
At one stage there was a lot to worry about in the Jordan, Minardi and BAR garages. Jarno Trulli, Heinz-Herald Frentzen, Olivier Panis and Tarso Marques were all outside the 107% driver time. The situation was quickly rectified in the ranks of the Honda powered Jordan, when both Trulli and Frentzen put their cars in the top five. The other Honda runner BAR had to settle for both Jacques Villeneuve and Panis finishing mid order. Unfortunately the same couldn't be said for Tarso Marques, who couldn't get beyond the 107% driver time.
The disappointment in the Williams ranks was clearly written on the face of Technical Director Patrick Head when he walked outside the garage and pulled a face as Ralf Schumacher came past putting the car tenth on the grid. It wasn't Williams' day - though improving from lower order positions, Juan-Pablo Montoya improved to eighth while Ralf could only manage tenth. At least both cars are in the top ten. It was evident from the results that Michelin was struggling at Silverstone.
Pedro de la Rosa gave Jaguar a flicker of hope when he did a good lap putting the leaping cat into seventh place. For Eddie Irvine it was a session he's much rather forget. He clipped a curb and broke the suspension crippling the car. He limped back to the pits. He managed to get into the spare car to see if he could better his 20th position, which fortunately for him and the team he did. Another driver who had to make use of the spare car was Montoya who realized his front wing wasn't properly tightened which could have caused him a lot of nerve wracking moments had he not noticed it.
Apart from the customary front runners namely Ferrari and McLaren, it was the Jordans and Saubers who dominated the top ten. One can only wonder at what is going on inside Rubens Barrichello, because the Brazilian relinquished places to the likes of Frentzen, Trulli and Nick Heidfeld. Though trying his utmost; Barrichello couldn't join teammate Michael on the front row.
At the start of the session a pensive Michael was staring out in front of him. One can only guess at what thoughts were going through his mind, considering that Silverstone was the track that put a sudden and cruel end to his 1999 World Driver Championship aspirations leaving the door open for Häkkinen. Was he already thinking ahead to tomorrow's British GP or was he mentally preparing for the corner that claimed his championship back in 1999?
Williams is not where we expected them to be, the Jordans are snapping at the heels of the top runners, especially Frentzen who has newfound confidence and Barrichello is in sixth. We know that Barrichello can fly and that things in Formula one can change in a split second. It will be action and battles when the five red lights go out and 22 cars will storm down the pit straight.