The Benson and Hedges Jordan team had a very good start to the weekend in today's free practice session in Suzuka. Ralf finished the session in second place, just behind his brother, Michael, who upped his psychological battle with Hakkinen by finishing four places ahead of his Finish rival.
Damon Hill, who ran his car in race trim, finished seventh. Both Damon and Ralf were very happy with the balance and running of their cars and feel confident for qualifying tomorrow.
RALF SCHUMACHER -- 2nd "Second place looks really good but I think it is unrealistic to think we can hold onto this tomorrow. Having said that, perhaps with the support we will get from the new Mugen-Honda qualifying engine it is possible. In any case, we should perform well. The balance of the car is very good, but we will try and find even more improvements for tomorrow. It certainly helps that I know the circuit very well from my days racing here in Formula Nippon. Although racing an F1 car around this circuit is very different, I feel quite at home on the track."
DAMON HILL -- 7th "Things went pretty well today - it is a good start to our weekend. I am happy with the basic package and we seem to have got the set up about right, which is good. Work today concentrated on tyre choice. I ran the car in race spec. so I think the times show that we have a good chance to qualify strongly tomorrow - I am looking forward it."
Overall, Goodyear seemed to have the edge over rival tyre supplier, Bridgestone. The top four runners were all on Goodyear tyres. After a good start in the morning, McLaren fell to 5th (Hakkinen) and 6th (Coulthard), and seem to be struggling to match Ferrari. Jordan's fight to beat Benetton and Williams looks promising - Villeneuve, Wurz and Fisichella all finished behind both Jordan drivers, with Frentzen, in third place, the only obvious threat.