Ferrari and Bridgestone held the advantage on Friday going into the German Grand Prix, with Germany's Michael Schumacher leading teammate Rubens Barrichello after the first day of practice. Michelin-shod cars, which seemed to have an edge over...
Ferrari and Bridgestone held the advantage on Friday going into the German Grand Prix, with Germany's Michael Schumacher leading teammate Rubens Barrichello after the first day of practice.
Michelin-shod cars, which seemed to have an edge over the Bridgestone runners during last week's French Grand Prix, filled the third through the seventh positions, yet only Schumacher came close to breaking the 1 minute, 16 second mark with a time of 1:16.086. Barrichello, who had edged out Schumacher in the closing moments of the first of the two practice sessions, ended the day second fastest at the heavily revised circuit on Friday with a time of 1:16.248.
The only team also using Bridgestone tires to set a time in the top 10 was Sauber-Petronas.
Hockenheim was once a mix of long straights with a twisty stadium section but this year has been transformed into a tight 2.8-mile circuit. Most teams spent the day experimenting with the settings of their cars, which resulted in a number of spins taking place throughout the day's two practice sessions. Still, most drivers praised the circuit, many saying the tightest section of the track, an as-yet unnamed chicane, could provide for overtaking opportunities come race day.
Schumacher, who clinched his record-tying fifth Formula One World Drivers' Championship a week ago by winning the French Grand Prix, has only one won the German Grand Prix once, in 1995, when he was racing for Benetton-Renault.
McLaren-Mercedes, which lead the way in practice in France, took third- and fourth-fastest on Friday, with Kimi Raikkonen setting a 1 minute, 16.344 second lap and David Coulthard a 1:16.440.
"In the first session we had a small problem with the drive shaft, which limited the number of laps I was able to do and in the second session I ran off the track and damaged the floor of the car," said Coulthard. "However the team managed to repair things quickly and as a result we were able to do a decent number of laps."
On Friday, the team confirmed that both drivers would be back with McLaren in 2003. Ralf Schumacher of Williams-BMW was fifth fastest with a lap time of 1:16.493, followed by Eddie Irvine of Jaguar, who set a 1 minute, 17.136 second lap time near the end of the second free practice after having languished in the midfield.
"I am not complaining too much at this stage and some higher temperatures for tomorrow would not go amiss," Irvine commented. Ralf Schumacher's teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya, was seventh fastest with a 1:17.187. Felipe Massa was eighth in the Sauber-Petronas, with Allan McNish ninth for Toyota and Arrows' Heinz-Harald Frentzen 10th, making it three Germans in the top 10.
Arrows Grand Prix, which sat out Friday practice in both the British and French Grand Prix's because of legal issues with current and prospective investors, had a good day with Frentzen making the top 10 and teammate Enrique Bernoldi in 11th.
"It's good to make Friday practice as it's an important time for collecting data," said Frentzen. "We went through our usual program with the addition of having a new circuit to learn and I think we made good progress." Team's struggling on Friday included both Jordan-Honda and BAR-Honda as well as Renault, Jenson Button finishing 19th and Jarno Trulli finishing in 20th. At Jordan, Giancarlo Fisichella had an engine failure at the end of the second practice session, ending the day in 16th, his teammate, Takuma Sato, ending the day in 14th.
Jacques Villeneuve, who struggled with his BAR-Honda, was just 17th at the end of Friday. BAR-Honda driver Olivier Panis, who had been third fastest the morning practice session, had gearbox problems in the second free practice session, finishing the day in 12th.