German GP: Honda Friday notes

PANIS LEADS HONDA QUARTET IN FREE PRACTICE Panis and Sato finish 12th and 14th at Hockenheim Olivier Panis (Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda) finished 12th to head the Honda-powered drivers in today's free practice session for the German Grand Prix at...

Panis and Sato finish 12th and 14th at Hockenheim

Olivier Panis (Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda) finished 12th to head the Honda-powered drivers in today's free practice session for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. DHL Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato recorded 14th place, followed by team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella in 16th while Jacques Villenueve (B.A.R Honda) finished in 17th position.

The entire F1 grid experienced the new 4.574km Hockenheimring for the first time this morning, which has undergone dramatic revisions since last year, altering both the shape and character of the circuit. The modifications include the removal of some of the long high-speed straights and parts of the track have been widened, offering more overtaking opportunities and hopefully a more exciting race for the spectators.

B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis completed 31 laps of the new Hockenheimring in the morning session and set a best time of 1m17.482s. Panis ran for three laps in the second session before having to pull over and stop due to a gearbox problem. The Frenchman didn't manage to improve on his original time, putting him in 12th position overall.

Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato completed 21 laps in the morning and set a best time of 1m18.311s and went on to cover a further 28 laps in the second session. Sato finished in 14th position overall with a time of 1m17.684s, improving on his initial time by three tenths of a second. His team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella finished in 16th place overall, setting a best time of 1m17.805s and covering 33 laps. Fisichella span in the morning session and had limited track time as he waited for his car to be repaired and in the afternoon the Italian stopped out on track just before the end of the session due to engine failure.

B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve completed a total of 52 laps and finished in 17th position overall with a best time of 1m17.954s, an improvement of seven tenths of a second on his fastest time of the morning. Villeneuve was only able to complete 22 laps in the morning due to exhaust failure.

The Ferrari pairing of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello dominated the free practice session in warm and sunny conditions (20 degrees), finishing in first and second positions respectively. McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen set the third fastest time followed by team-mate David Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher (Williams) while Jaguar's Eddie Irvine completes the top six.

Shuhei Nakamoto Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development

"Ideally we would have liked to have had a better start to the weekend. It was a shame that Olivier and Giancarlo both stopped during the session due to a suspected gearbox and an engine problem respectively. We've got a bit more power for tomorrow and Sunday so we're optimistic and looking forward to seeing what we can do."

Olivier Panis Position: 12th

"I'm generally very pleased with the way things have gone for me today. The balance was good and I was happy with the car from the first lap, so I was able to post consistently quick times. It was a real shame that we had a gearbox problem in the second session because I was quite confident that I could have continued to improve. I had only done 3 laps so I lost most of the afternoon and didn't get the chance to do a back-to-back with the second tyre. Of course, we have Jacques' data to look at but every driver prefers to do his own back-to-back. Despite this problem though, I was still 12th at the end of the session so I'm feeling quite optimistic for tomorrow.

"Like many of the drivers I was very fond of the old track and this year, it's feels just like a 'normal' circuit. However, I don't have too many complaints because I've adjusted to it well and have a very good base car to take forward into qualifying tomorrow."

Takuma Sato Position: 14th

"This is the first time I have started a Grand Prix weekend with no disadvantage to everyone else, in terms of knowing the track. It is new for us all which makes it quite fair. We were quite competitive this morning, even on the greasy slippery surface. But as the circuit itself got more grip, somehow we dropped a tiny bit. It's difficult to interpret the times because it's a new circuit and you don't know whether teams are running with more or less fuel than us. I am fairly optimistic for tomorrow because the car's handling is much better and I feel I can push hard."

Giancarlo Fisichella Position: 16th

"There was nothing special about today. I had an engine blow at the end, and unfortunately it was on a run with new tyres. We still have a few problems with understeer on new tyres and oversteer on scrubbed tyres, so we still have to work on finding the best set-up for tomorrow. The new circuit is completely different. There are a few bumps, especially in braking for the two hairpins. But I quite like it and enjoy driving here."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 17th

"Like all of the drivers, we've spent most of the day adjusting to the new circuit and trying to get a good balance. I did plenty of laps and changed something with each run to improve the car. We're not there yet in terms of set-up but I've tried both of the tyres now and we should have a better session tomorrow morning once we've had the chance to look at the data.

"My first impressions of the new circuit were just as I anticipated. The old layout was very different but it's just like any other track now. There's one section of the track which really concerns me - the short straight before the entrance to the stadium section where the wall comes back towards the track. Generally, it's a typical modern circuit and not as interesting to drive, but there should be a couple of good overtaking opportunities."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Kimi Raikkonen , Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Jordan