Grand Prix of Europe Free practice, Friday 2001 June, 22 McLaren-Mercedes drivers Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard outpaced their rivals during free practice on the opening day of the Grand Prix of Europe, ninth round of this year's FIA Formula...
Grand Prix of Europe
Free practice, Friday 2001 June, 22
McLaren-Mercedes drivers Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard outpaced their rivals during free practice on the opening day of the Grand Prix of Europe, ninth round of this year's FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Former double world champion Hakkinen lapped in 1m 16.408s, just 0.171s faster than Coulthard.
At his home track - the Nurburgring is about half an hour from his native Kerpen - Canadian GP winner Ralf Schumacher continued his good form for the Michelin-equipped BMW WilliamsF1 Team by setting third fastest time.
His team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya was in touch with the pace-setters, too. Despite losing time with a spin in the first part of the two-hour session, the Colombian went on to post sixth-fastest time, just behind the Ferraris of world championship leader Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer/Michelin) is on a roll at the moment after scoring points in each of the previous two grands prix.
The Frenchman maintained his good form by setting ninth fastest time. His team-mate Luciano Burti was only 20th, however.
Pedro de la Rosa (13th) was fastest of the two Jaguar/Michelin drivers, but Eddie Irvine (15th) had a troubled day in the second car. The Ulsterman missed the opening hour of practice because his car stopped with fuel pressure problems only seconds after he had pulled out of the pit lane. When he finally got going, a couple of spins delayed his progress.
Of the other Michelin runners, Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton Renault Sport) was 14th, Jenson Button (Benetton Renault Sport) 18th, Fernando Alonso (European Minardi) 21st and Tarso Marques (European Minardi) 22nd. Like Irvine, Marques had a difficult day. Technical problems meant that he never made it out of the pits for the first half of practice.
MICHELIN'S RACE : Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) :
What was the track like today?
"As is traditionally the case on Fridays, the track was dirty and, therefore, abrasive. That's why we saw cars sliding around so much this morning. What's more, it was cold during the opening part of the session. Generally, however, this is a clean, smooth circuit and you need to generate a fair bit of aerodynamic grip. We have competed here before in touring car events but, at the risk of repeating myself, we are starting from a clean sheet of paper with the grooved tyres we use in F1."
How are the tyres lasting?
"In principle we are in good shape, given that wear rate is always most substantial during the Friday of a grand prix meeting. The Nurburgring sits somewhere in the middle of the extremes we have seen this season. Barcelona was the most abrasive track, Austria's A1-Ring the least so."
Will teams opt for compound A or B?
"Our two tyres don't produce radically different lap times. But while their performance is similar, they could differ a bit more in terms of consistency and wear rate. We still don't know enough about them yet and need to take into consideration the extra information we glean tomorrow morning."
Any new developments this weekend?
"Yes, we have new constructions and compounds, but I would prefer not to say too much about that."
Would Michelin be happier if the weather was warmer?
"That's what everyone says but it's not true. Everything depends on tyre choice. At the Nurburgring the temperature can change enormously at this time of the year, but we think we have tyre options that can cope with whatever the weather throws at us."