David Coulthard served notice that McLaren is ready to challenge world championship pace-setter Ferrari by lapping more than a second faster than his rivals during free practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix, third round of this season's Formula...
David Coulthard served notice that McLaren is ready to challenge world championship pace-setter Ferrari by lapping more than a second faster than his rivals during free practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix, third round of this season's Formula One world championship. Beaten by Ferrari in the last six races, McLaren is looking for its first win since last August's Belgian GP. Coulthard was pushing hard during both parts of the two-hour session and ran off the track twice. In-between times, however, he lapped in 1m 15.220s - 1.004s faster than Jarno Trulli (Jordan-Honda) and 1.378s faster than world championship leader Michael Schumacher (Ferrari).
It was a good day for Michelin, which has not previously tested its F1 tyres at Interlagos. BMW WilliamsF1 Team drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher set fourth and sixth fastest times, while Eddie Irvine (Jaguar) rounded off the top 10. Schumacher recovered well after gearbox problems forced him to spend most of the first hour in the pits. The German also slid off the track at the one point, but his car was not seriously damaged.
Irvine's team-mate Luciano Burti set 11th fastest time, but while the Jaguar team had a positive day on the track its crew had a lucky escape in the pits. An overhead TV camera fell from its mounting point and landed among them. Fortunately, nobody was injured.
Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer) was next best of the Michelin runners, in 14th place. Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton Renault Sport) was 17th, Fernando Alonso (European Minardi) 18th, Gaston Mazzacane (Prost-Acer) 20th, Tarso Marques (European Minardi 21st) and Jenson Button (Benetton Renault Sport) 22nd.
It was a tough morning for local favourite Rubens Barrichello. Currently joint second in the world championship, the Ferrari star was only seventh fastest after he spun off the circuit with 20 minutes of the practice session remaining.
Michelin's Day @ Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director):
"This has been an interesting opening session for us here at Interlagos, a circuit we knew in the past, but which has of course completely changed since then. The track has a relatively new surface with different types of graining. Although we have studied the track before, we were not sure exactly what effect these different types of surface graining would have, but as we thought it is in fact quite abrasive, a little more so than Sepang."
"Our softer tyre seems to work very well, but it may be that with the track as it is at the moment, wear rates could become a factor. The harder tyre seems to wear well, but the drivers generally always want maximum levels of grip! Looking at the track it would seem that there has been quite a lot of rubber laid down already and this will mean that it is also an evolving track like Australia. Therefore tomorrow's sessions will be important because when more rubber is put down, grip levels change and the track should become less abrasive."
"Once again we are very happy to see our partners up there amongst the top times. Today it was Juan Pablo who showed that we are quite competitive."