Late start forces teams to play catch-up Free Practice for the Belgian Grand Prix finally got underway today an hour behind schedule and was cut short by 30 minutes due to thick fog which would have prevented the medical helicopter reaching ...
Late start forces teams to play catch-up
Free Practice for the Belgian Grand Prix finally got underway today an hour behind schedule and was cut short by 30 minutes due to thick fog which would have prevented the medical helicopter reaching hospital had there been an on-track accident. When the cars finally left the pit-lane at noon, Rubens Barrichello posted the fastest lap time - a 1:49.009 - closely followed by his teammate Michael Schumacher. Takuma Sato was the next best Bridgestone runner in 7th place for DHL Jordan Honda with a 1:51.517.
The second session after lunch went ahead as normal with the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro drivers 3rd and 4th fastest. Jacques Villeneuve, in 13th place for Lucky Strike B.A.R. Honda, led the rest of the drivers on Bridgestone tyres. OrangeArrows is back this weekend after missing the Hungarian Grand Prix but its drivers did not take part in Free Practice.
Hisao Suganuma, technical manager of Bridgestone Motorsport:
"The apparent gap on paper that we have seen today does not concern me too much because I am confident about the tyre selection we made for this race. As everyone knows it is always difficult to know where you stand relative to the opposition on a Friday. From a wear point of view, both compounds performed well today and I am pleased about their consistency too. Today's track temperature was in line with what we expected."
The Tyre Choice
The specifications Bridgestone has brought to Belgium are from the medium-harder end of the compound range. The rain tyre choice includes two intermediates and one full wet tyre.
Hisao Suganuma said: "The short first session did have an impact on some of our teams because not all of them managed to do a comparison between the two specifications today. However, we do have enough data for both tyres to analyse this evening which will influence the advice we offer our teams. Our primary specification showed better stability which is crucial for the high speed corners at Spa, but the option tyre may be better for grip through the slower turns. The final choice is dependent on the differences between the cars."
Ross Brawn, technical director of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro:
"We did the normal job today of tyre comparisons and it is fairly clear which we will choose. Spa is a critical circuit for tyres with a lot of medium-high speed corner. The degradation effect it has on tyres can be quite high so the durability of the tyres is very important - if the tyres do not hold together then you lose lap time very quickly. However, the Bridgestones seem to stabilise quite quickly and appear to be consistent. This track is also very sensitive to fuel level so we are not overly concerned about the performance of the other cars. The drivers have reported reasonable balance and the car seems to be OK taking into account the amount of fuel we had on board."