Rubens Barrichello put a halt to Jarno Trulli's run of top times at the end of the Saturday practices for the US Grand Prix, the Ferrari man setting a best of 1:11.112. Trulli had been quickest prior to Barrichello's last minute effort and the ...
Rubens Barrichello put a halt to Jarno Trulli's run of top times at the end of the Saturday practices for the US Grand Prix, the Ferrari man setting a best of 1:11.112. Trulli had been quickest prior to Barrichello's last minute effort and the Renault was a mere one hundredth of a second behind. Michael Scumacher was third, after missing the first session with a car failure, while brother Ralf crashed out of the second.Ferrari pair were two of the first drivers to take to the circuit, swiftly followed by most of the field putting in installation laps. Renault's provisional pole sitter Trulli and teammate Fernando Alonso were the only ones not to venture out.
Almost as soon as he got going, Michael Schumacher came to a halt on track in the middle sector with a suspected mechanical failure. Giancarlo Fisichella clocked the first time of the day, a 1:18.267 for the Jordan, but not a benchmark effort. Sauber's Nick Heidfeld was next to the top, a marginally better 1:17.352, and it was a very slow start to Saturday -- only seven drivers registered on the timesheet by half way through.
Finally, with fifteen minutes to go, the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya emerged and moved initially to fourth fastest, then to the top with a 1:16.070. Teammate Ralf Schumacher put in an appearance in second quickest and Montoya upped his best to 1:14.121, the times improving along with the conditions.
Ralf and da Matta squabbled over second and Montoya again improved, clocking a 1:13.806. Juan Pablo kept chipping away, his next a 1:12.495 and Webber, Panis and Barrichello traded fourth, fifth and sixth. The second Jordan of Ralph Firman appeared to make it a total of ten drivers on the timesheet.
In the final five minutes things woke up a bit; Alonso emerged and took third fastest, Trulli followed and removed Montoya from the top with a 1:12.408, eight hundredths ahead. The BARs got out on track, as did Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Nicolas Kiesa and Justin Wilson.
Barrichello improved to third and Ralf to fourth but there was no sign of the McLarens. Trulli remained top while Kimi Raikkonen, David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher failed to set a time.
The second session started with more enthusiasm. Firman was first to the top, 1:14.457, followed by Wilson going better with a 1:13.307. Button was next, 1:12.782, then Webber with a 1:12.447 and Ralf better still, 1:12.060 -- all in the first couple of minutes.
Raikkonen took to the track and posted 1:11.941 to take over the top with the best time of the day so far. Jacques Villeneuve was a new face in the top ten from the first practice and Trulli's first effort put him third quickest. Barrichello took his turn at the front with a 1:11.889 and within ten minutes only Michael and Fisichella had failed to set a time -- the German's Ferrari was still being worked on in the garage.
After the first rush of activity it quieted down a bit. Fisichella, who's not had a happy time so far this weekend, moved up to thirteenth but teammate Firman floundered at the back with the Minardis and Saubers. Trulli returned to his favourite top slot with a 1:11.483, four tenths up on Barrichello.
Frentzen made a big leap up to eighth quickest and Heidfeld went even better to sixth as Sauber made a bid for freedom from the backmarkers. Panis improved to second. Montoya demoted Trulli with a 1:11.377, then was replaced by Coulthard's 1:11.355 -- but when Michael Schumacher finally got on track he shot straight to the top, 1:11.430.
Ralf, who had been running eighth, went off into the tyre barrier at turn eight but it was not a big impact and he was out of the car swiftly. The yellow flags came out, which curtailed the activity briefly.
Barrichello improved to second then Trulli moved back to the top; 1:11.124 and a mere three hundredths ahead of Michael. The German's next lap closed it down to 0.015. Raikkonen took sixth fastest, Webber eighth and Button ninth then da Matta's engine blew as he passed turn twelve. Barrichello took the top slot with a 1:11.112, less then three hundredths separating the top three.
Trulli certainly looks like he could give the Ferraris some trouble in qualifying but teammate Alonso seemed unsettled in tenth. Ralf and Montoya were on the pace all morning and the McLaren pair completed the top six by the end of the second session. No surprises prior to final qualifying. Final top eight classification: Barrichello, Trulli, M. Schumacher, Montoya, Coulthard, Raikkonen, Panis, Webber.