While most of the interest in the paddock centered on the future, or perhaps lack of it, at the Arrows Grand Prix team, it was business as usual for Rubens Barrichello as he dominated both of today's rain affected 60-minute practice sessions at ...
While most of the interest in the paddock centered on the future, or perhaps lack of it, at the Arrows Grand Prix team, it was business as usual for Rubens Barrichello as he dominated both of today's rain affected 60-minute practice sessions at Silverstone.
The Brazilian managed to out-pace Ferrari number one Michael Schumacher with relative ease, stopping the clocks in 1:31.457, four-tenths of a second clear from Michael Schumacher. The Championship leader's day was however compromised when an uncharacteristic spin on his out lap during the first session that saw him sit out the remainder of the session after his F2002 engine stalled. Once on track, the pace of the Ferrari and in particular the latest specification Bridgestone rubber ensured that the Italian team were a full 1.5 seconds clear of the rest of the field.
Giancarlo Fisichella was third fastest in his Jordan Honda, despite a couple of off-track excursions. It was a solid performance from the Italian driver but it remains to be seen whether it is the circuit conditions that are playing into Bridgestone's hands or Jordan have really found an excellent setup at their home circuit.
Juan Pablo Montoya set the fourth fastest time in his BMW Williams during the dying minutes of the session. An engine failure during the first session saw the Colombian loose track time, but it mattered little given the nature of the British Weather today.
Takuma Sato used all his experienced gained in the British Formula 3 championship to take the fifth fastest time in the second Jordan Honda. The Japanese driver dominated at the Formula 3 support event last season and now in his Rookie F1 season with Jordan, has impressed with his pace if not his consistency.
Jacques Villeneuve was sixth fastest in his BAR Honda, making it five out of six for the Bridgestone teams. Nonetheless it was a good showing from the former champion as teammate Olivier Panis was just 14th overall.
Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest of the McLaren Mercedes runners after an aggressive day in his office.. The Finn may have recorded a decent seventh position, but at three seconds a lap slower than Rubens Barrichello, McLaren and Michelin have little to smile about and obviously have a great deal of work to do.
The problem the Michelin runners face is that they remain competitive as long as the circuit is soaking wet and they are able to run their full wet tire. As soon as the circuit begins to dry, Bridgestone runners are able to run their superb intermediate tire -- something Michelin are simply unable to do, as their Intermediate tire just is not competitive.
Felipe Massa spent much of his two hours of running facing the wrong way as he spun off the slippery circuit. Back in the pits the Brazilian Rookie held up five fingers and counted them off either indicating that he would spin five times, or that Brazil had won their fifth World Cup. Whatever, the talented youngster did a fine job to take the eighth fastest time ahead of the fastest Renault of Jenson Button and teammate Nick Heidfeld.
Ralf Schumacher found himself back in 11th on this somewhat inclusive day at Silverstone ahead of David Coulthard who suffered various off-track moments in his McLaren.
Jaguar Racing were running their heavily revised r3 chassis for the first time in race conditions, but will have learned little today from their new aerodynamic and suspension package. Pedro da la Rosa managed the 13th fastest time while Eddie Irvine was 15th.
Renault driver Jarno Trulli was just 16th fastest, seven places behind teammate Button while the Minardi duo of mark Webber slithered around to take 17th and 18th fastest times respectively some six-seconds off the pace set by Rubens Barrichello.
Over at Toyota, the first day of practice at Silverstone was a day to forget with Mika Salo parking his car after just one shakedown lap before retiring to his motorhome to recover from food poisoning while Allan McNish completed 30 laps to end the day slower even than the Minardis.
At Arrows the mechanics continued to clean the cars as they stayed firmly put in their pit garage. Team principle Tom Walkinshaw is currently trying to stave off closure, while Cosworth refuse to release the V10 engines until a debt of $4.5m is paid. The team have passed scrutineering today, so can race come Sunday if they manage to qualify one of their cars tomorrow afternoon. Tom Walkinshaw meanwhile is rumoured to be putting some of his own funds into the Jaguar operation to cover the cost of the Cosworth V10s. Naturally, with the team on the brink, placing the money in his own team would not be the best option.
It was far from classic on track action at Silverstone today and it was noticeable that very few fans had opted to attend the first day of practice today. Unlike previous years, there is a very downbeat atmosphere at the home of British Motorsport this year.
Current weather forecasts predict heavy showers throughout the weekend, so it may once again come down to a straight battle between the Ferrari duo of Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher.
Earl Alexander. | CART-Racing.com |