McLaren-Mercedes drivers Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard dominated the opening day of the Canadian Grand Prix, eighth round of the year's Formula 1 world championship. Hakkinen lapped in 1m 17.762s Â 0.414s ahead of his team-mate and 0.677s ...
McLaren-Mercedes drivers Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard dominated the opening day of the Canadian Grand Prix, eighth round of the year's Formula 1 world championship. Hakkinen lapped in 1m 17.762s 0.414s ahead of his team-mate and 0.677s faster than last year's pole position lap at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The Finn is looking for a substantial change in fortune this weekend. Twice a world champion in the past, he has scored only two points finishes this year and is currently 48 points behind world championship leader Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), who was 11th quickest today.
Hot on the heels of his podium finish in Monaco Jaguar's best F1 result to date Eddie Irvine was fastest Michelin runner in third place, fractionally faster than BMW WilliamsF1 team-mates Juan Pablo Montoya (5th) and Ralf Schumacher (6th). All three drivers recovered from brief off-course excursions and Montoya has high hopes of a good result at a track he has never seen before. "I think Montreal will suit our car," he said. "It is very important to have good braking characteristics here and that is an area we have improved a lot recently."
Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer, 12th) headed the other Michelin runners, from Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar, 14th), Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton Renault Sport, 15th), Luciano Burti (Prost-Acer, 17th), Fernando Alonso (European Minardi, 20th), Jenson Button (Benetton Renault Sport, 21st) and Tarso Marques (European Minardi, 22nd). A variety of technical problems hindered European Minardi and led to its drivers completing the lowest aggregate number of laps.
Local hero Jacques Villeneuve (BAR-Honda) was a spectator for most of the day after crashing heavily at Turn Five in the first part of the two-hour session. The Canadian was on only his 14th lap of the day when he spun into the concrete retaining wall at high speed. His car was extensively damaged by the impact but Villeneuve was unhurt.
MICHELIN'S RACE : @Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) :
* Montreal, unexplored territory @"This is a circuit with very particular characteristics that we are unable to replicate anywhere else. The chicanes demand a high level of traction, while the long straights have a tendency to heat up the tyres, which can be very punishing for softer compounds. The way drivers deal with the kerbs can influence tyre wear, too, and most of them have different techniques. In this way Montreal provides a lot of new experiences for us."
* Durability @"Things are pretty much what we expected, for the moment, but we have a slight doubt about what might happen if the track conditions don't change tomorrow."
* Compound A or B which should drivers choose? @"Both the compounds we have brought with us appear to be suited to the track. They are quite different in construction, mainly in terms of the rubber compound, but there doesn't appear to be much between them as far as performance is concerned. Ultimately we could see both being used in the race on Sunday."
* What effect is traction control having? @"This development probably makes the wheels try to spin more, although it is of course controlled. We have noticed more significant rear tyre wear since traction control reappeared in races."
* What about the extremely quick lap times this morning? @"The organisers certainly cleaned the surface well overnight. What's more, the support races have helped to prepare the circuit. The track also evolved significantly between the two sessions."