Bright sunny weather and a track temperature of 25 degrees greeted the first free practice session of the Austrian Grand Prix. Minardi's Mark Webber was first man out on track to complete a shakedown lap followed by team-mate Alex Yoong. Within...
Bright sunny weather and a track temperature of 25 degrees greeted the first free practice session of the Austrian Grand Prix. Minardi's Mark Webber was first man out on track to complete a shakedown lap followed by team-mate Alex Yoong. Within five minutes all bar the Ferraris and Jacques Villeneuve had been out for an installation lap in a quiet start to the session.
Yoong was the first driver to set a time, a 1:21.232, the Minardis as usual putting in the early laps. Jordan's Takuma Sato took over the top of the times, Jordan and BAR both running new Honda engines this weekend. After about 20 minutes there was more action on track, Ralf Schumacher setting the fastest time for Williams, both Saubers in the top five along with the Toyota of Allan McNish.
Enrique Bernoldi was showing well for Arrows, team mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen also in the top ten as the times started to change rapidly half way through the practice. Giancarlo Fisichella slotted into third fastest behind the two Williams', Juan Pablo Montoya quickest, as the Ferraris finally took to the track. Eddie Irvine put in a surprise appearance near the top of the times, swiftly overshadowed by Rubens Barrichello who in turn made way for Michael Schumacher.
Jenson Button was in the top ten for Renault, Olivier Panis doing well for BAR while the McLarens of Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard took a long time to register on the clock. Coulthard set fifth fastest on his first run, Raikkonen fourteenth, the Finn seeming to have problems with oversteer. Nick Heidfeld took over the fastest time, a 1:12.129, Sauber again looking very competitive with Massa fourth quickest.
The first thirteen drivers were all within one second of each other towards the end of the session, the Ferraris again claiming the two top spots. Webber and Coulthard had the only incidents of the practice, the Australian going off at the final corner and Coulthard spun at Rindt. After a less than eventful session Ferrari and Sauber were dominant with Jordan coming through strongly at the end. Final top six classification: M. Schumacher, Barrichello, Massa, Heidfeld, Fisichella, Sato.