1st & 2nd free practice sessions Weather: Sunny, warm Dario Franchitti (Mercedes) was fastest in the opening untimed practice sessions. "I don't think I have a home advantage because all the other drivers have raced here before. But my car ...
1st & 2nd free practice sessions
Weather: Sunny, warm
Dario Franchitti (Mercedes) was fastest in the opening untimed practice sessions. "I don't think I have a home advantage because all the other drivers have raced here before. But my car feels good and I have a good chance to win."
Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) completed the morning's practice sessions in second place. "There were some small problems with the car but nothing important. I'm not quite happy with the set-up but it's good enough for a place in the Top 15 Qualifying tomorrow."
Kurt Thiim (Mercedes) was fifth fastest. He was fastest in the opening session but suffered a gearbox problem soon after. "That delayed our plans to find the best tyre for the track but I'll keep on trying."
Klaus Ludwig was the leading Opel driver in fourth position but he and the rest of the Opel team had a difficult morning. His team owner and fellow Calibra V6 driver Keke Rosberg didn't complete a single lap in the first untimed session. When his team fired-up the Calibra in the pit lane, the exhaust header broke. He completed only six laps in the second session due to a gearbox failure. "I'm going out blind into the timed session this afternoon - but at least I've got a pilot's licence to do that!" grimaced Keke.
The remaining Opels also had problems. JJ Lehto's first session was halted by gearbox trouble and was unable to contest the second period. Yannick Dalmas was unhappy with his engine in the first session so his team changed to a new unit for the second session only for it to blow after seven laps. Manuel Reuter encountered a sticking throttle cable in both sessions and also suffered with excess heat in the cockpit. "I can't understand where the heat is coming from - we don't usually have this problem. But even though I only did a few laps this morning, the car's set-up is quite good."
As Mercedes dominated the front of the timesheets, the leading Alfa Romeo was that of Michael Bartels in sixth position. "We were really struggling for a set-up for a long time. We simply didn't have any balance or grip. Then we took the ground effect underbody off the car and suddenly it was a lot better. Normally the ground effects work well everywhere we go but clearly they don't work here" said Michael.
The two Martini Racing Alfa Romeos of Alessandro Nannini and Nicola Larini experienced similar problems with the balance of the cars. "I went off the track twice" said Nannini, "but I think we can find a solution to the handling problem. Maybe not by this afternoon but in time to get into tomorrow's Top 15 Qualifying in about sixth or seventh." Larini also suffered brake problems in the first session which restricted him to five laps.