West McLaren Mercedes' Canadian Grand Prix weekend got off to the best possible start with their drivers leading the times in today's free practice. Mika Hakkinen, who has been on the podium just once in nine grand prix appearances in Canada when...
West McLaren Mercedes' Canadian Grand Prix weekend got off to the best possible start with their drivers leading the times in today's free practice. Mika Hakkinen, who has been on the podium just once in nine grand prix appearances in Canada when he won two years ago, was quickest with a 1:17.672, almost a second under last year's pole position time. His teammate David Coulthard, who has never finished better than 4th in Montreal, was second with 1:18.086.
Eddie Irvine came in third fastest for Jaguar Racing, followed by Rubens Barrichello in the first Ferrari. Defending world champion and last year's winner Michael Schumacher ended the day 11th. Local hero Jacques Villeneuve, after whose father the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is named, had a disappointing start to the weekend when his BAR Honda hit the barriers, cutting short his morning session and preventing him from running at all in the afternoon.
Steve Hallam - Race Operations Manager - West McLaren Mercedes
"This track is far more complex than it looks and there are a lot of factors that need careful consideration before you are happy with the set-up or even your tyre choice. We had a good session today with both drivers, now we need a couple of hours to study things and to find the right solutions. The tyre choice is not clear here and the two Bridgestone compounds are fairly close. We need to be careful with our choice and not rush into it so that come tomorrow lunchtime we know we have picked the right tyre. Balance is the key issue, stability under braking. The circuit will change in terms of grip level and you have to anticipate that when you make your choice. I am sure it will be different for all the teams using Bridgestone tyres."
Ross Brawn - Technical Director - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
"Before the second session we made a change on Michael's car which delayed him going out, preventing him from doing so many laps and pushing him further down the list than he normally would be. However, there are no major concerns for tomorrow. With Rubens we were investigating tyres to see which was the best approach with compound and combination of tyres and we have a reasonable idea on that now, so overall it was a pretty good session."
Hisao Suganuma - Technical Manager - Bridgestone Motorsport
"At the start of the first session, the track was very dirty but obviously as the number of laps increased so the lap times improved. Both specifications worked well so we will weigh up the requirements of car balance against grip and recommend to our teams which way to go, but both compounds look competitive. It was an encouraging day for us as all our cars were able to achieve good lap times more or less straightaway."