A less than usual line up started the first free practice of the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Arrows absent this weekend and BAR test driver Anthony Davidson taking the place of Minardi's Alex Yoong. Heavy rain earlier in the morning left a damp...
A less than usual line up started the first free practice of the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Arrows absent this weekend and BAR test driver Anthony Davidson taking the place of Minardi's Alex Yoong. Heavy rain earlier in the morning left a damp track and a low temperature of around 23C. After the initial installation laps the circuit was quiet in the early stages except for Davidson and Jordan's Takuma Sato.
Although he's done some heavy mileage in an F1 car as a tester, this weekend is Davidson's debut in competition: his first set time was three seconds behind Sato but he improved as the practice went on, half a second slower than Mark Webber. That half a second may sound a lot but considering Yoong was generally over two seconds slower than Webber, it was not too bad.
BAR were early showers, Jacques Villeneuve going second fastest although Olivier Panis only put in one lap before heading back to the pits with a suspected oil problem. He returned to the track shortly afterwards and remained on the pace for the rest of the session in the top six along with Villeneuve.
The Sauber duo of Nick Heidfeld and Felipe Massa showed good form, going second and third fastest respectively behind the Williams of Ralf Schumacher, who took the top slot after twenty minutes with a 1:19.193. Jaguar's Eddie Irvine was in the top six and by half way through the Schumacher brothers were holding the fort, Michael fastest in the 1:17 bracket and Ralf about one and a half seconds behind.
Giancarlo Fisichella was on the pace in fourth although Sato dropped down the positions slightly after his early showing. Rubens Barrichello picked up the pace of Ferrari team mate Michael and went second fastest and while the Williams were in the action, McLaren were surprisingly anonymous. Kimi Raikkonen didn't set a time until very late in the session and David Coulthard's first time was in the 1:20s, way behind the Ferraris.
Renault also had a quiet time of it, save for Jarno Trulli almost running over two of his mechanics in a practice pit stop. Team mate Jenson Button was a couple of places ahead of the Italian but Renault seem to have fallen away from their form of earlier in the season. Toyota were struggling, only just managing to keep in front of the Minardis but Mika Salo managed to improve to 15th.
The expected fast runners, save for Ferrari, who remained dominant, were strangely slow. Coulthard, Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya and the Renaults were all off the pace while Sauber, BAR and Jordan put in quick times.
Ferrari dominated all the way, Barrichello and Michael trading the top time, and the Bridgestone runners seemed to have the advantage. Raikkonen was the fastest of the Michelin shod cars in seventh, only three Michelin runners in the top ten. Massa spun into the gravel a couple of minutes before the end but still managed to be third fastest. Final top six classification: M. Schumacher, Barrichello, Massa, Fisichella, Villeneuve, Panis.