Alesi leads free practice at Japanese GP

By Kelly Batke - Motorsport.com It was somewhat appropriate that Jean Alesi captured the fastest time in practice on Friday for the Japanese Grand Prix. Not only will Japan serve as the final Formula One race for the Frenchman, but it is...

By Kelly Batke - Motorsport.com

It was somewhat appropriate that Jean Alesi captured the fastest time in practice on Friday for the Japanese Grand Prix. Not only will Japan serve as the final Formula One race for the Frenchman, but it is also the home of Honda.

The first session saw the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher fastest with a time of 1:37.443, followed by the McLaren of Mika Hakkinen and the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya. However a major incident suffered by Czech driver Thomas Enge resulted in the session being red-flagged with 60 seconds remaining. Enge, fortunately was unhurt in the accident.

The second session brought out the red flag again as Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld heavily damaged his car, thus ending his afternoon. While Heidfeld appeared uninjured, the Sauber lost 2 wheels and scattered debris all over the track.

Montoya dominated most of the second session as his time 1:35.997 held him in first place until Alesi topped the charts with 1:35.454.

The timesheets were virtually dominated by the Michelin runners, as the Jaguar of Pedro de la Rosa finished in 3rd. The Prost of Heinz-Harald Frentzen also made a surprise visit as a front-runner as he finished the afternoon in 5th, followed closely by the Jaguar of Eddie Irvine.

McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen was the front Bridgestone runner as the rest of the usual front-running clan finished in the midfield. Surprisingly the Ferraris finished the 2nd session in 8th and 10th.

While Williams driver Ralf Schumacher was also on Michelin tires, he could do no better than 9th, eight-tenths slower than his teammate.

David Coulthard had an interesting and eventful second session as a fire erupted front his front left wheel while he sat stationary inside the car in the garage. Shortly after he spun across the track onto the gravel. Coulthard finished the second session in 7th position.

If Friday's practice is any glimpse at all into tomorrow's qualifying, Japan could provide an exciting finish to a predictable season. One thing is obvious, Bridgestone will have much competition.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams