Melbourne, 1st March 2002 Australian Grand Prix -- Free Practice Schumacher leads first practice of 2002 After weeks of waiting and two months of intense testing, the 2002 Formula 1 season got underway at Albert Park in Melbourne today. The ...
Melbourne, 1st March 2002
Australian Grand Prix -- Free Practice
Schumacher leads first practice of 2002
After weeks of waiting and two months of intense testing, the 2002 Formula 1 season got underway at Albert Park in Melbourne today. The first practice session began in drizzly rain, with Bridgestone's wet and intermediate tyres making their season debut. But shortly before the end, the track had dried sufficiently to prompt quick changes to dry tyres. A further shower in the afternoon did not stop Michael Schumacher from setting the fastest time of the day.
Cars on Bridgestone tyres dominated the top three places in the morning -- Michael Schumacher, his Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro teammate Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella for DHL Jordan Honda. The Ferrari drivers remained on top in the afternoon with a fastest lap of 1:27.276 by Schumacher, with Barrichello close behind with a 1:27.799. The next best Bridgestone runner was Nick Heidfeld in 5th place for Sauber Petronas with a 1:29.752. The changing conditions allowed Bridgestone and its teams to identify the cut-off point between the intermediate and dry tyres, but robbed the teams of valuable dry running time to gather set-up information for an anticipated dry race.
Hisao Suganuma, technical manager of Bridgestone Motorsport, said: "All our teams started the second session on dry tyres and once we have looked at all the results from today we will be able to advise them which will be the best specification. The morning rain allowed us to gather some useful wet-weather tyre data, although we were confident of their performance anyway."
The Tyre Choice
Bridgestone brought two new dry-tyre compounds to Australia. Hisao Suganuma said: "Because of the short dry running time today, most of our teams will have to continue their comparison tomorrow morning. We expect that one of the compounds will give better grip while the other will be more durable and give better balance to the cars."
Ross Brawn, technical director of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, said: "We tried both types of dry tyre on one car -- we were doing a separate programme on the other car -- and we have a clear picture of what we want to do tomorrow. It was a little difficult with the conditions but the car looks good. The wet running allowed us to gather some information which will be useful for future races even if it is not used here because we were lacking some wet running in warmer conditions. Today we got a clear picture of where and when the tyres worked well."
Temperatures Ambient Track Weather
Morning 14-19C 16-22C Showers, drying later
Afternoon 17-18C 22C Cloudy, light shower