Friday 6 March 1998 Friday free practice, 11.00-12.00 WEATHER CONDITIONS: overcast, intermittent light rain McLaren-Mercedes open with fastest times The McLaren-Mercedes of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard set first and second fastest time...
Friday 6 March 1998 Friday free practice, 11.00-12.00
WEATHER CONDITIONS: overcast, intermittent light rain
McLaren-Mercedes open with fastest times
The McLaren-Mercedes of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard set first and second fastest time during this morning's free practice time, both drivers setting their times in the closing moments of the session as the circuit began to dry out after a brief rain shower. Both drivers only completed a handful of laps, but had no technical problems and concentrated on bedding in their new equipment.
Villeneuve third for Williams
Jacques Villeneuve set third fastest time with his Williams-Mecachrome FW20, the World Champion reporting; "we did not really do much running. The track was filthy dirty and the cars certainly feel as twitchy as they look."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen slid across a gravel trap in his Williams, winding up with seventh fastest time after being obliged to return to the pits with gravel jammed between a wheel and brake caliper. "With these hard compound tyres they lose grip dramatically when there is just a light coating of rain on the track," he explained.
Schumacher's Ferrari fourth
Michael Schumacher's Ferrari F300 wound up with fourth fastest time despite the German driver having a couple of spins during the course of the session. "It is impossible to draw any conclusions from what we saw this morning," he said. Eddie Irvine did only sixth tentative laps for 13th fastest time.
Alesi's Sauber takes fifth
Jean Alesi wound up fifth fastest in a happy frame of mind after early problems with the variable trumpets on the Petronas engine were rectified during the red flag period in the middle of the session. He was also troubled by the malfunctioning of the timing mechanism on his car for much of the session, but this was also corrected before the end of the session. Johnny Herbert covered only four laps for 18th fastest time.
Hill sixth for Jordan
Damon Hill finished the session with sixth fastest time in the Jordan Mugen-Honda, the team reporting that it was very early days and that he was concentrating on routine setting-up work. Ralf Schumacher finished the morning 20th fastest, resisting the temptation to go out again in the closing moments of the session.
Pedro Diniz's Arrows A19 stopped on the circuit with an electronic-related transmission problem which caused the red flag to be displayed in order for his car to be retrieved. Team-mate Mika Salo was called in to have his car checked over for any sign of a similar problem...Giancarlo Fisichella spun his Benetton B198 while team-mate Alexander Wurz reported problems under braking on the white lines painted on the circuit...Rubens Barrichello's Stewart-Ford needed a gear ratio change after it was hitting the rev limiter halfway down the straight.
Friday 6 March 1998 Friday free practice 13.00 to 14.00
WEATHER CONDITIONS: overcast, intermittent rain
Schumacher satisfied with Ferrari
Michael Schumacher consolidated his fastest time during the second part of today's free practice session, reporting that he was happy with the car although it was hard to judge how well he was performing relative to the opposition. He did his best time on new tyres near the end of the session before switching to try wets near the end of the session. Irvine experienced some electrical problems which cost him track time in the other car.
Little progress for Williams
The Williams team reported that there were no mechanical problems with its cars during the second part of the session although Patrick Head remarked "with the weather all over the place like its has been, it has been difficult to complete any comparative set-up work."
McLaren quietly confident
The McLaren-Mercedes team had an almost trouble-free day with only a small hydraulic problem on Mika Hakkinen's MP4/13 to slow their progress. "The lap times reflect the variable weather conditions and nothing else," said Ron Dennis. David Coulthard confirmed that the new regulations have made the cars extremely difficult to drive aggressively and lean hard on them through the corners.
Benetton makes improvements
The Benetton team made steady progress throughout the session with Alexander Wurz reducing the downforce on his B198, improving the car's feel. Giancarlo Fisichella reported he was unable to get a decent clear lap in really dry conditions.
No problems for Jordan
Apart from a couple of spins by Damon Hill, the Jordan Mugen-Honda squad had few problems with their new cars. Ralf Schumacher said his car felt much better and his target for tomorrow is to qualify in the first six.
Mixed fortunes for Sauber
Jean Alesi had starter problems with his Sauber-Petronas, setting eighth fastest time after these had been rectified. Johnny Herbert wound up seventh fastest, but reported that the car felt extremely twitchy, even on the straight, and had poor handling balance.
Prost still catching up
The Prost-Peugeot team spent the day attempting to catch up for lost development time, Jarno Trulli setting ninth fastest time five places ahead of team-mate Olivier Panis.
Rubens Barrichello's engineers solved an earlier hydraulic problem and the Brazilian set 12th fastest time...Toronosuke Takagi survived a quick spin in his Tyrrell.