David Coulthard (West McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin) got his Brazilian Grand Prix weekend off to a flying start by setting the pace in the opening free practice session. The Scot, one of this year's pre-season world championship favourites, is still...
David Coulthard (West McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin) got his Brazilian Grand Prix weekend off to a flying start by setting the pace in the opening free practice session. The Scot, one of this year's pre-season world championship favourites, is still looking to score his first point of the campaign after technical failures denied him a finish in either of the year's opening two races. Despite a spin during the morning, Coulthard lapped the Interlagos circuit, one of only two on the Formula One calendar that runs anti-clockwise in 1m 15.073s, 0.270 seconds faster than Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW). Coulthard's fellow Scot Allan McNish completed a good day for Michelin by setting third fastest time in his Toyota, only fractionally slower than Montoya.
Ralf Schumacher completed a clean sweep of the top four places for Michelin in the second Williams-BMW, just ahead of his brother Michael. The world champion and current F1 points leader drove Ferrari's F2002 during a grand prix weekend for the first time, but he suffered a couple of spins during the day. On his final run he ran off the track at the Senna S and his car kissed the barriers. As a result, he emerged only fifth fastest, just ahead of Coulthard's team-mate Kimi Räikkönen. The Finn caused the morning part of the practice session to be stopped briefly because he spun off and his stalled car left the circuit partly blocked. Crowd fa vourite Rubens Barrichello was seventh fastest at the wheel of Ferrari's 2001 chassis; the team did not have time to prepare two of its new cars for Brazil.
Jenson Button (Renault F1, 8th) was next best of the Michelin drivers ahead of Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing, 10th), Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing, 14th), Mika Salo (Panasonic Toyota Racing, 15th), Mark Webber (KL Minardi Asiatech, 20th), Jarno Trulli (Ren ault F1, 21st) and Alex Yoong (KL Minardi Asiatech, 22nd). De la Rosa spun while trying to improve his time at the end of the session and Trulli completed fewer laps than any other driver after pulling off with a technical problem.
Michelin's day Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
One never knows what tactics teams are using on a Friday, but given that Michelin set the four fastest times you must be feeling quite pleased?
"Yes but while we might not have been able to draw any firm conclusions today I know that the two compounds we have brought with us seem to be very effective."
Michelin's tyres worked very well here last season. Do this year's compounds have anything in common with those we saw in 2001?
"No, this year's compounds represent a completely new generation of tyre. Things have moved on enormously in the past 12 months. Remember, last year's Brazilian GP was only our third event back in F1 and we were still trying to work out how to deal with grooved tyres."
There were some problems with punctures this morning. Why?
"We had a left-rear puncture on Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams-BMW and on Allan McNish's Toyota. We know what caused it for Allan McNish because we found the nails inside the tyres. I think the track was just very dirty this morning. The organisers did thei r best to sweep the track clean during the build-up to the race, but obviously on this occasion that was't quite enough."
From what you have seen so far is it likely that both your prime (A) and option (B) tyres will be used in the race on Sunday?
"I think so, but obviously we will have to see what extra information we glean tomorrow."
From what you said earlier in the weekend you seem convinced that a wide number of race strategies might come into force on Sunday.
"I think this event is very open in terms of the tactics people might use. Remember, Ferrari intended to put Rubens Barrichello on three stops last season."
Would you sum up your mood as optimistic after today?
"For the moment, yes."
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