Formula One Test Session Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, England April 17, 18 and 19, 2001 by Mark Gledhill Seven Formula One teams and thirteen Grand Prix drivers tested at Silverstone on April 17-19 in preparation for the forthcoming Spanish...
Formula One Test Session
Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, England
April 17, 18 and 19, 2001
by Mark Gledhill
Seven Formula One teams and thirteen Grand Prix drivers tested at Silverstone on April 17-19 in preparation for the forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix, in what turned out to be a major test session at the British circuit. There was almost as much activity in the paddock as on track as there were several driver changes over the three days, with Luciano Burti replacing Gaston Mazzacane at Prost and Pedro de la Rosa taking the vacant seat at Jaguar. McLaren finished the session on top with Mika Hakkinen's time over 3 seconds faster than last year's qualifying time.
The first day was filled with incidents, starting when Jean Alesi crashed at Beckets on his first run of the day and so was unable to set a time. Juan Pablo Montoya's FW23 broke down on the circuit causing the Colombian to spend most of the day in the garage and Takuma Sato, driving for BAR, beached the car on the kerb at the exit of Luffield. Luciano Burti, in what would turn out to be his last test for Jaguar, suffered from gearbox problems as the team worked on tyre compounds and suspension settings. Heinz-Harold Frentzen went on to set the fastest time of the day, comfortably ahead of McLaren test-driver Alexander Wurz.
Conditions were bright and sunny for the second day of testing and the times tumbled as the initially damp track slowly dried. Jean Alesi and Luciano Burti lead the session early on as Frentzen, using a development engine, returned to the pits with a mechanical problem. After a brief shower Giancarlo Fisichella's Benetton broke down on the circuit, but the track was almost dry by the time his car was recovered. McLaren, Williams, BAR and Jordan all exchanged fastest laps with David Coulthard unofficially setting the fastest time of the morning. The times continued to fall after lunch, with Frentzen setting the early pace and then McLaren duo Hakkinen and Coulthard breaking the unofficial lap record. Eddie Irvine spent most of the day working on race set-up and completed a full race distance using a qualifying engine. French Formula Three champion Jonathan Cochet made his Formula One debut as test driver for Prost - his first lap of the day was a cautious 1m 42.12s which gradually improved to 1m 27.88 during the session.
The final day of the session was the quickest of the three. The fast times started straight away with Olivier Panis lapping in 1m 24s and Coulthard responding with 1m 23s. The first major stoppage of the day was due to Ralf Schumacher's engine letting go and spraying oil around the circuit, mostly at Copse. Pedro de la Rosa, testing a new front wing for Jaguar, broke down on the restart and Frentzen suffered a couple of spins on his way back to the pits. Fisichella then broke down again, Mika Hakkinen joined in with a quick spin at Brooklands, and the session was brought to a halt by Irvine's Jaguar stopping out on the circuit. In the afternoon Panis and Hakkinen exchange fastest laps, with McLaren eventually taking the honours slightly ahead of the BAR pair. At the end of the day Luciano Burti managed a flying lap on his debut as a Prost driver. There had been rumours circulating the paddock all day about a change of team involving Burti, although his name remained on the Jaguar transporter all day.
The teams seemed reasonably happy with their traction control systems, although some admitted that there is still along way to go. It was obvious in previous tests that the amount of traction control applied can be varied greatly, so now the teams and drivers have the added complication of setting up the traction control to suit the conditions and drivers at each circuit. However with lap times now 3.4 seconds faster than last year, there is a lot more pressure on the drivers.