Olivier Panis was the man on the move in the final practice sessions for the European Grand Prix, the Toyota driver setting a best of 1:31.181 in the first session. The Frenchman's time held right through the second practice from Ralf Schumacher,...
Olivier Panis was the man on the move in the final practice sessions for the European Grand Prix, the Toyota driver setting a best of 1:31.181 in the first session. The Frenchman's time held right through the second practice from Ralf Schumacher, who was just over a tenth behind by the end.
However, there was some confusion when Ralf's second best time in practice two, a 1:31.305, was officially declared the fastest, despite being slower than Panis' first effort. Usually the two 45 minute practices have a combined result, which means Panis was fastest overall. Today the session times were initially separated, which meant Olivier was relegated to third behind Ralf and Juan Pablo Montoya. Now it appears officials have back-tracked again, and declared Panis' time was best. Go figure.
Panis made it ahead of Rubens Barrichello in the final minutes of the first practice -- Barrichello had been top most of the session but the Ferrari ended over eight tenths of a second behind the Toyota. Panis' teammate Cristiano da Matta also made the top ten, as did both McLarens and the pair of Williams.
Jarno Trulli was an early improvement in the second session, the Renault moving up to third. Michael Schumacher was one and a half seconds off Panis in seventh, with brother Ralf just behind. Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso made slight improvements on their earlier times while Barrichello had a brief trip into the gravel.
Webber spun at the last corner and parked the Jaguar by the wall. Ralf made up to second and David Coulthard was hot on his heels to third. There was a bit more activity in the latter half of the session; Kimi Raikkonen went up to fourth, Trulli, Michael and Alonso all improved their times although the positions remained fairly static.
Justin Wilson came to a halt with some kind of gremlin in the works while Antonio Pizzonia improved his time slightly, as did the BAR duo of Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button. Montoya moved into third behind teammate Ralf for the last betterment of the session.
McLaren and Williams looked strong, Ferrari less so but this afternoon is when it really counts. Final top eight classification: Panis, R. Schumacher, Montoya, Coulthard, Raikkonen, Barrichello, da Matta, Trulli.