Warm and dry conditions greeted the first free practice session of the Canadian Grand Prix where the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has undergone some alterations. The pit exit now leads into turn two rather than before the first corner and other...
Warm and dry conditions greeted the first free practice session of the Canadian Grand Prix where the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has undergone some alterations. The pit exit now leads into turn two rather than before the first corner and other changes have been made. Track temperature was approx 32C which, if it continues so warm for the weekend, will make the tyre war interesting. Eddie Irvine was the first out on track, the Jaguar driver the subject of some speculation this weekend regarding his plans for next year, then Alex Yoong set the first fastest time in the Minardi, a 1:28.576.
It was the first visit to the circuit for Yoong and for Sauber rookie Felipe Massa, the Brazilian quickly taking over the top of the times early on. Other Montreal rookies are Mark Webber and Allan McNish. Toyota and Arrows also showed well early, before any of the front end of the grid teams put in some serious laps. Toyota were running new aerodynamics, McLaren some new engine specifications and BAR a new chassis: local hero Jacques Villeneuve was up to sixth with the modified car.
The Williams of Ralf Schumacher was the first of the big guns to take the top spot, dropping below the 1:20s, while Sauber remained the best of the rest. Jordan had both cars in the top ten although Renault seemed off the pace in the first half hour; Jarno Trulli was improving but Jenson Button was down in 22nd with only three laps.
Michael Schumacher set the fastest time on his first flying lap, Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello slotting into second followed by David Coulthard into fourth for McLaren. Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen made up the familiar names of the front runners about half way through the session. Both McLaren's had brief skirmishes with kerbs and the grass but nothing serious.
Enrique Bernoldi made a huge improvement to fifth heading into the last twenty minutes, team mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen also putting his Arrows into the top times with second fastest. It was short lived for Bernoldi as he slowed and pulled off the track, prematurely ending his practice with some kind of problem. Olivier Panis had a good session, up to third in the last ten minutes in the new BAR and Irvine also improved into the top ten. Giancarlo Fisichella took second fastest for Jordan but the Ferraris soon reverted to one and two; then Michael Schumacher made a rare mistake and hit the wall in the final turn. Damage to the rear suspension saw him make his way slowly back to the pits.
Button finally managed a quick lap in the last minutes, setting the eleventh fastest time. The Ferraris set the pace though, the only two to make it into the 1:16s, 0.06 of a second separating them. Final top six classification: Barrichello, M. Schumacher, Fisichella, Coulthard, Raikkonen, Frentzen.