McLaren-Mercedes drivers Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard were quickest on the opening day of the British Grand Prix, 11th round of this year's Formula 1 world championship. The Finn, who is still seeking his first win of the season, lapped in 1m...
McLaren-Mercedes drivers Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard were quickest on the opening day of the British Grand Prix, 11th round of this year's Formula 1 world championship. The Finn, who is still seeking his first win of the season, lapped in 1m 22.827s - 0.067s faster than his team-mate - before a rain shower hit the track. Coulthard lies second to Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) in the title chase - and badly needs to win this weekend to reduce a 31-point deficit. Schumacher set fourth fastest time today, fractionally slower than team-mate Rubens Barrichello.
Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing-Michelin) was fastest of the Michelin runners, in seventh place. The Spaniard recovered well after his car broke down within moments of him leaving the pits in the first part of the session and reduced him to a speculating role for 60 minutes.
Of the other Michelin drivers, Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team-Michelin) was eighth, Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing) 13th, Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer-Michelin) 14th, Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) 17th, Luciano Burti (Prost-Acer) 18th, Jenson Button (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport-Michelin) 19th, Fernando Alonso (European Minardi-Michelin) 20th, Giancarlo Fisichella (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport) 21st and Tarso Marques (European Minardi) 22nd.
Both Williams-BMW drivers spun while trying to dial their chassis into the track. Burti and Alonso also ran off the track. Spaniard Alonso missed the final moments of the session because his car became stranded on the wet grass. As an illustration of how slippery conditions became at the end, Arrows driver Enrique Bernoldi spun off at Copse Corner after he had taken the chequered flag.
MICHELIN'S RACE :
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) :
The testing you carried out at Silverstone one month ago was less productive than that you did at Magny-Cours two weeks earlier. Why?
"Performance always depends on a number of factors: engine, chassis, aerodynamics and tyres. During the recent Silverstone test, our tyres seemed to perform much as they have today. It's all a question of balance - that's to say you have to match the tyres to the car's handling characteristics and the state of the track."
Have the tyres you are using this weekend been tested at Silverstone before?
"We tested one of our two compounds here, but we have since made a few changes to its construction."
What are the pros and cons of the A and B compounds?
"Our softer tyre was perhaps a bit too soft for this morning's track conditions. The harder tyre works well, though. It surprised me that we didn't go as quickly this morning as we did during the tests, but things went much better this afternoon."
Might the rain make the track less abrasive and bring the softer tyre into play?
"Possibly. A mixture of ran and sunshine oxidises the rubber laid down on the track, which thus remains quite abrasive. But team's different race strategies will also influence whether they opt for hard or soft tyres."
Have you been able to develop your rain tyre?
"Yes, but unfortunately the rain arrived a little bit too late for us. We would like to have confirmed that certain results we obtained on an artificially soaked practice track were the same in real conditions. No matter which kind of motorsport we have tackled, we have always been good in the wet. There is no reason why that should change, but we have to acclimatise to the particular circumstances of contemporary F1."