Fortunes were turned around for Benson and Hedges Jordan Honda when Jarno Trulli, after problems in the morning, qualified fifth. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who hoped for better things after a productive practice, could do no better than take 11th...
Fortunes were turned around for Benson and Hedges Jordan Honda when Jarno Trulli, after problems in the morning, qualified fifth. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who hoped for better things after a productive practice, could do no better than take 11th place on the grid.
After the loss of running time due to an engine problem during the first of the two morning practice sessions, Trulli made a strong recovery, setting his best time early in the 60-minute qualifying session.
'I did a very good first run,' said Trulli. 'Then I had a drop off in performance which we need to investigate. I couldn't improve my lap times, which was a shame because, otherwise, the car was running very well. We had found quite a good balance for qualifying and, right from the beginning, the car was quick. So it's a shame I couldn't go quicker but, after the problems this morning, I'm pretty happy.'
Frentzen had been happy with his car in the morning but things began to go wrong during his first qualifying run.
'I had to abandon my first quick lap when I made a mistake and accidentally hit the pit lane speed-limiter!' said Frentzen. 'I set what would turn out to be my best lap on my second run but I was struggling with the car. The balance was not as good as it had been in the morning and we couldn't improve it. On top of that, I had traffic problems and, because of the way the laps had worked out, I was carrying a bit more fuel than I needed, so the extra weight didn't help either. All in all, I'm obviously disappointed to be this far back on the grid.'
Tim Holloway, Head of Engineering at Jordan Grand Prix, explained that initial impressions were that Trulli's performance in qualifying had been affected by engine-related problems.
'Jarno did a very good first lap,' said Holloway. 'But, from then on, he was affected by a lack of power and we need to analyse that further. Heinz had a difficult qualifying in the sense that he didn't get a single decent run. He had to abort two runs and the run he did get was not a good lap.'
Qualifying was dominated by Ferrari and Williams as McLaren had one of their worst sessions in a long time. The Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were split by the Williams pair, led by Juan Pablo Montoya, the first four covered by just over two-tenths of a second.
David Coulthard was seventh fastest, seven-tenths of a second slower than the pole position Ferrari, the Scotsman unable to explain fully why the handling of his car which had been fastest in the morning had suddenly dropped off. Mika Hakkinen's eighth place on the grid was put down to an engine which had been gradually losing power.
A change of wind direction affected all of the teams but dust on the track caused several drivers to spin. Michael Schumacher, while on an even faster run during his final lap, was forced to run off the track while narrowly missing the spinning Arrows of Jos Verstappen.