Austrian GP Friday report

Survivor - Austrian trackside By Erica Southey - Both free practice sessions were anything but boring. They remind one of the American television show "Survivor," where alliances are formed and individuals try to work each other...

Survivor - Austrian trackside
By Erica Southey -

Both free practice sessions were anything but boring. They remind one of the American television show "Survivor," where alliances are formed and individuals try to work each other out. It is usually the good guys (Montoya leading a race) that get booted out by another (Verstappen politely takes off the rearwing of the Williams) putting an end to what could potentially have meant a win. Then there is the "I will sell out my own family to get the prize" (Schumacher versus Schumacher Spain 2000?). by now you get the idea.

How uncharacteristic to see the name of Heinz-Herald Frentzen at the bottom of the list while the Sauber of Kimi Raikkonen was snapping at the heels of the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello at one stage in the first session. Is Raikkonen sending Jean Todt and Luca Di Montemozolo some sort of message? If there were any doubts about Frentzen, he soon dispelled them by moving into the top ten in session two.

In session one, Jarno Trulli didn't even try to cut the first corner or slow down while going through it at top speed which resulted in him making a perfect 180 degree spin stopping just inches away from the wall. The first driver, however to get acquainted with the gravel of the A1-Ring was the fiery Colombian, Juan-Pablo Montoya who was on a stunning lap setting the highest speed on the first sector and the best time on the second sector. Unfortunately he went wide a couple of meters later to go off into the gravel but managed to keep going and get the car back on track. It appears that Montoya and Trulli are competing for first corner incident honours, because the second session saw them going off there once again.

What did Raikkonen and his car have for breakfast?! The young Finn managed to outsmart triple World Champion Michael Schumacher to slot into fourth place behind Ralf Schumacher. This was not enough for Raikkonen, who decided to go out on a limb and displace the younger Schumacher as well. Barrichello, however restored some Ferrari pride by sandwiching Raikkonen between himself and Schumacher Jnr.

The sibling rivalry continues. This time it is the younger Schumacher who walked away smiling from both sessions leaving his brother a somewhat shade of red. Ralf did experience a bit of embarrassment however, because the second session found him sliding off backwards into the gravel trap out of the first corner. The way that brother Michael lost the back end of the car in both sessions, suggested that all was not well with his set-up.

The McLarens dominated the first and second session while Benetton was having a dismal day at the office being outdone by the Minardi team in both sessions. On the other hand Arrows had a lot to smile about with both cars getting into the top ten. Making a good show in position was not all Jos Verstappen and Enrique Bernoldi shone in - they also treated us to various degrees of spinning in corner one of which Bernoldi took the honours in session two. He did a perfect 360 spin. Where were the Jaguars and Prosts? BAR saw mixed fortunes with Olivier Panis consistently in the top ten while 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve went wide putting all fours in the gravel on the last corner before the start/finish line resulting in an overall 13th place at the close of the first session. Picking up where he left off in the first session Villeneuve went out to better his position in the second session, but some sort of mechanical problem put an end to his aspirations. Jenson Button's Benetton followed suit by leaving a trail of puffing smoke behind him like a sign writing aeroplane probably writing "S O S".

Mika Hakkinen despite suffering from the dreaded flu and memories of Barcelona put the record straight by staying top of the log, despite attempts of Coulthard to outrank him in session one. Most of the second session didn't see any difference in his dominance of that coveted number one place, while behind him Nick Heidfeld took over from teammate Raikkonen to visit the sixth spot with Raikkonen two places down in the ranking. Heidfeld continued his stint and finished in front of his teammate. Judging from the way these two were flying, they must have more than just wings propelling them past top runners.

Coulthard and Barrichello were definitely on the war path against each other and their teammates, because both in the dying moments of the session put in stunning laps to outsmart their teammates, with Coulthard winning the battle to take first place followed by Hakkinen and Barrichello.

Tomorrow's qualifying promises to be exciting considering the attraction the first corner has for most of the drivers, a family feud and the various scores to be settled between teammates.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Ralf Schumacher , Jos Verstappen , Enrique Bernoldi , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mika Hakkinen , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Jean Todt
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Minardi