Spanish GP Friday practice report

By Erica Southey -- Motorsport.com Did the sudden departure of Luciano Burti to Prost Acer and replacement talks serve as a wake-up call for Eddie Irvine? The Ulsterman was on a mission in both free practice sessions by putting the Jaguar in ...

By Erica Southey -- Motorsport.com

Did the sudden departure of Luciano Burti to Prost Acer and replacement talks serve as a wake-up call for Eddie Irvine? The Ulsterman was on a mission in both free practice sessions by putting the Jaguar in second spot behind David Coulthard in the second session. Teammate, Pedro de la Rosa making his first appearance in the race seat for Jaguar this season, shadowed his team-mate in positions showing that Jaguar is catching up.

Three World Champions were outranked by their teammates in both sessions. Mika Hakkinen, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve had to settle for lower positions than their teammates. Coulthard was the star of the day, topping both practice sessions but not without a bit of drama. He spun off while on a fast lap. Fortunately for him and McLaren he carried on without any damage to the car. Coulthard is currently well ahead of his teammate, double world champion Hakkinen who is yet to score decent points to get into the running for this season's World Driver's Championship (WDC). Was it deja vu for Hakkinen in second free practice, when his car was immobilized on the track for a few seconds before it got going again?

Are we noticing some sort of pattern for Juan-Pablo Montoya? The Colombian seems to be haunted by mechanical failures in free practice sessions. Montoya treated us to his no holds barred driving, flying at top speed when he blocked the front wheel and spun off at the exit. Fortunately for him he could continue without any damage. All seemed to be well in first free practice, but second free practice saw yet another fruitless session for Montoya who was forced to park his Williams at the side after mechanical failure. 1997 World Champion Villeneuve barely made it out on track when he suffered a blown engine in first free practice. The engine incident didn't put a damper on his spirits though. In the second session he came out in full force driving the car to the limit. Olivier Panis in the BAR held the team's flag high by staying in the top six positions matching his rivals every lap of the way.

I suppose the sessions were becoming rather dull having to stick to the same route all the time, because Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello and Heinz-Herald Frentzen had some off-road excursions touring the Barcelona countryside for a few seconds. Tarso Marques however, wasn't happy with only a few seconds worth of sight-seeing, because he went into a full spin and stopped in the gravel trap. Mika Hakkinen shared the same thought of an outing when he touched gravel but decided against it and steered the car back on track.

Ralf Schumacher who shined at San Marino silently made his presence felt by consistently staying in the top ten.

If the free practice sessions are anything to go by, we are in for an exciting Spanish GP, where it will be more than one constructor vying for the title.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Luciano Burti , Ralf Schumacher , Pedro de la Rosa , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Tarso Marques
Teams McLaren , Williams