Coulthard in charge after final Monaco GP practice

David Coulthard was at the top of the times at the end of Saturday practices for the Monaco Grand Prix, the McLaren man setting a best of 1:14.747. Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya was second fastest, followed by the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher. The...

David Coulthard was at the top of the times at the end of Saturday practices for the Monaco Grand Prix, the McLaren man setting a best of 1:14.747. Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya was second fastest, followed by the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher. The second session was marred by a huge crash, Jenson Button's BAR wrecked at the exit of the tunnel. Button appears to be fine after the shunt.

A rush of activity on the streets of Monaco heralded the start of the first session, everyone out quickly to get their bearings. McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and Williams' Ralf Schumacher were early front runners, followed by Michael Schumacher's Ferrari taking command of the fastest time, a 1:16.687.

Mark Webber was in amongst the top six, the Jaguar driver still on the pace, and BAR's Jenson Button was also looking keen. Renault deigned to join the action early, both Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso in the top ten but down the order initially. Toyota continued to struggle at the back with Minardi, Jordan and Sauber also lagging behind.

Mid session improvements included Trulli, up to fifth, Ralf back up to third and Heinz-Harald Frentzen making the top ten. Juan Pablo Montoya had been languishing at the back but suddenly remembered why he was there, taking the top spot with a 1:16.612. Raikkonen was next to claim the best time, 1:15.752, the first into the 1:15 bracket and eight tenths faster than the Williams.

Da Matta dragged his Toyota up to 15th and teammate Olivier Panis managed 13th, which was no doubt a great relief to them after Thursday's back-of-the-pack disaster. However, Jaguar's Antonio Pizzonia improved to push da Matta back down the order.

Lots of last minute activity saw improvements from Frentzen, Giancarlo Fisichella and Pizzonia in the midfield and Jacques Villeneuve, Rubens Barrichello and Webber in the top ten. Alonso, who had an anonymous time, came to a halt at the end of the session after a minor shunt. Raikkonen, Montoya and Webber were the interesting top three at the close of first practice and the top ten were separated by less than a second.

Scarily, just after the start of the second session, Jenson Button had a huge accident coming out of the tunnel, hitting the barrier and bouncing across the track into the wall.

Button remained trapped in the wreckage of the BAR for some time but finally the young Englishman was extracted and taken to hospital. Team boss David Richards told French television shortly afterwards that Jenson appeared to be all right and was undergoing checks. It's unknown as yet if he will be able to take part in qualifying today.

When the session was re-started, Raikkonen was the first to improve his time at the top by a couple of hundredths, 1:15.604. Barrichello moved up to second but was swiftly displaced by Ralf, three tenths behind Raikkonen. Coulthard displaced the Finn with a 1:15156, making it a McLaren one-two. The Scot then outdid himself with a 1:14.747.

There was little action in the midfield, da Matta improving to 13th while the two Minardis traded times at the back. Pizzonia moved up to 12th. Webber improved to sixth and Trulli to fourth, the Italian making it a top four for Michelin runners. Barrichello was the fastest Bridgestone runner, fifth and over a second off Coulthard.

Michael broke the Michelin stranglehold by moving up to third and the second BAR of Villeneuve came to a halt after contact with the barriers. It was a subdued finish to the session after Button's accident. Final top eight classification: Coulthard, Montoya, M. Schumacher, R.Schumacher, Trulli, Raikkonen, Barrichello, Webber.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan