David Coulthard fastest just ahead of Eddie Irvine McLaren driver David Coulthard was fastest on the opening day of the French Grand Prix, 10th round of this year's Formula 1 world championship. Chasing his second successive victory at ...
David Coulthard fastest just ahead of Eddie Irvine
McLaren driver David Coulthard was fastest on the opening day of the French Grand Prix, 10th round of this year's Formula 1 world championship. Chasing his second successive victory at Magny-Cours, the Scot recorded a 1m 14.935s - 1.7 seconds faster than last year's pole position lap. Despite missing vital track time in the first part of the two-hour session, Eddie Irvine was second fastest for the Michelin-shod Jaguar team, fractionally faster than Jacques Villeneuve (BAR-Honda).
Irvine wasn't the only driver in trouble during the early part of the session. BMW WilliamsF1 Team star Ralf Schumacher was forced to pull of the track because an electrical problem caused his engine to cut. He bounced back to set fifth fastest time - just 0.602s ahead of team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya.
Of the other Michelin runners, Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing-Michelin) was eighth, Luciano Burti (Prost-Acer-Michelin) 12th, Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer) 16th, Jenson Button (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport-Michelin) 17th, Giancarlo Fisichella (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport) 20th, Fernando Alonso (European Minardi) 21st and Tarso Marques (European Minardi) 22nd.
The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team expects to take a step forward this weekend with the introduction of its latest V10 engine. This is likely to be used for the first time in the final free practice session tomorrow morning.
MICHELIN'S RACE :
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) :
Is Michelin taking a slightly different approach for this race, on home soil?
"Not at all. In fact, we don't know any more about Magny-Cours than we do about some other tracks at which we have tested, such as Barcelona, Jerez or Estoril. We have only conducted three tests here with grooved F1 tyres, so there is no reason for us to know the circuit better than any other. We are not starting with any kind of advantage, so it is just like a normal grand prix weekend. We are going about this race in just the same way as we would any other and our working methods remain unchanged."
Have you brought anything new to Magny-Cours?
"We have one tyre that is totally new, in terms of both construction and compound. Whenever we find a way to improve the effectiveness of our rubber on the track, we are hardly going to leave it behind! The second type of tyre is an evolution of a compound we have used previously this season."
How have the A and B compounds performed today?
"According to our partner teams, the performance differs quite considerably. But when that is the case, it is usually a consequence of chassis balance rather than tyre performance. We need to see what happens tomorrow in order to know a bit more."
What effect does this track have on the tyres?
"Magny-Cours is more surprising than some circuits, in terms of the demand it places on tyres. The track takes a lot out of them - and the loads generated through Estoril, the fast right-hander, are quite substantial."
How did the track evolve today?
"It changed a lot between the two sessions. It was less abrasive in the afternoon - and times weren't as quick as they were in recent tests here. That is certainly a consequence of the heat - and I'm sure it will have changed in nature again by tomorrow."