Cool cloudy weather greeted the first free practice for the Monaco Grand Prix where many cars were running additional wing profiles. Last year Arrows and Jordan tried out some unusual wing configurations in free practice but they were disallowed...
Cool cloudy weather greeted the first free practice for the Monaco Grand Prix where many cars were running additional wing profiles. Last year Arrows and Jordan tried out some unusual wing configurations in free practice but they were disallowed for the race.
Allan McNish and Jacques Villeneuve were the first to set times for Toyota and BAR respectively, a quiet start as the track was fairly damp from earlier rain. By fifteen minutes gone all bar the Ferraris had done installation laps -- everyone was waiting to see the reaction of the crowd when they went out.
BAR and Jaguar showed early form, Eddie Irvine taking over the top of the times for Jaguar followed by the BAR of Olivier Panis. The Renault of Jenson Button was also on the pace, taking his turn at going quickest then Ralf Schumacher took over for Williams.
Pedro de la Rosa was the first victim of the narrow track, hitting the wall at the swimming pool. The front of the Jaguar was damaged but de la Rosa was not. David Coulthard led team mate Kimi Raikkonen for McLaren, taking the first two fastest times and Mark Webber did a great job for Minardi, up to ninth quickest about half way through the session.
Raikkonen crashed taking Rascasse too fast, another car with a badly damaged front end. Michel Schumacher finally took to the track and a few fans gave the Ferrari driver the thumbs down on his out lap. The German clocked fourth fastest on his first time, not able to match the pace of the McLarens initially. Meanwhile team-mate Rubens Barrichello set the eighth time on his first attempt, getting some boos from the crowd along the way.
Jordan were languishing down at the bottom of the times and Sauber seemed cautious, Nick Heidfeld and Monaco rookie Felipe Massa in 16th and 17th. Renault continued well, Button and Jarno Trulli in the top five and Villeneuve up to eighth for BAR.
Giancarlo Fisichella seemed to have some problems, the Jordan driver only managing three laps. Michelin appeared to have the upper hand through the session but Michael Schumacher took the fastest time in the last five minutes -- followed by a surprise appearance by the Arrows of Heinz-Harald Frentzen into fourth. He was quickly usurped by Barrichello and Villeneuve jumped into the top six right at the end. Final top six classification: M. Schumacher, Coulthard, Trulli, Barrichello, Frentzen, Villeneuve.