Ferrari was the dominant force on the opening day of the Hungarian Grand Prix, 12th of the 17 races in this year's world championship. Series leader Michael Schumacher lapped in 1m 16.651s, just 0.083s clear of team-mate Rubens Barrichello. If ...
Ferrari was the dominant force on the opening day of the Hungarian Grand Prix, 12th of the 17 races in this year's world championship. Series leader Michael Schumacher lapped in 1m 16.651s, just 0.083s clear of team-mate Rubens Barrichello. If Schumacher wins this weekend he will secure the Formula 1 title for the fourth time and simultaneously equal Frenchman Alain Prost's all-time record of 51 grand prix victories, established in 1993. McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen came closest to matching the Ferraris. He was third fastest, 0.138s adrift of Schumacher.
Although Michelin has never previously run its F1 tyres at the Hungaroring, its partner teams had an encouraging day. Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) set fourth fastest time, Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing) was fifth and Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton Renault Sport) seventh. Schumacher and Fisichella were among several drivers who had at least one spin on a particularly dusty, slippery track surface.
Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing) was best of the rest of Michelin's runners, in 11th place. Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, 13th), Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Prost-Acer, 14th), Jenson Button (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport, 17th), Fernando Alonso (European Minardi, 20th), Luciano Burti (Prost-Acer, 21st) and Tarso Marques (European Minardi, 22nd) followed him. Frentzen settled in well in his first drive for Prost, although his progress was interrupted when he spun and hit a kerb with considerable force. He joined the French team recently after losing his drive with Jordan-Honda. Marques had a particularly eventful day: he went off the track on five separate occasions.
Former Prost driver Jean Alesi, who has taken Frentzen's old job, spun off the track after only a handful of laps this morning, but bounced back to set sixth fastest time. Scot David Coulthard, whose second place in the championship is increasingly under threat from Ralf Schumacher, managed only nine laps and 10th fastest time - after running over a kerb and inflicting heavy damage to the floor of his McLaren.
Pierre Dupasquier, Motorsport Director
Today was your first time at this track. Were things as you expected them to be?
"We looked at the track surface a while ago and we had some idea about what we were letting ourselves in for. That said, the circuit was covered in dust and other stuff this morning, which affected the performance of our tyres. We thought the Porsche Supercup cars might have cleaned the track up a little bit, but that wasn't the case at all. The dust makes tyres wear out more quickly, no matter which compound you use. It is a bit like sandpaper and the fact the cars are sliding around a lot doesn't help. The track was less abrasive in the second session and it should be even more normal tomorrow."
What can you tell us about your two tyre compounds?
"Here more than almost anywhere it is imperative to qualify at the front of the grid and we bore this in mind when deciding which compounds to bring. Technically, our primary (A) and option (B) tyres are quite different, but paradoxically they are fairly similar as far as performance is concerned. Both are new in terms of construction and compound. From what we saw this morning, it appears that both are raceable and it could be difficult for teams to decide which to use. We still have to establish how they will compare in terms of durability, that it is to say during longer runs and with full tanks. We will do that tomorrow morning to establish a better database for both tyres."
Anything other innovations this weekend?
"Yes our intermediate and our wet are both new."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jean Alesi have swapped jobs. Are you worried that your rival tyre supplier might benefit from fresh information that was previously confidential?
"I don't think so. You have to trust the drivers, who are sensible and go about their jobs in a professional manner. Furthermore, it is difficult for them to pick out specific details of how a tyre influences chassis behaviour. There are so many things that affect the way an F1 car performs that it is sometimes hard for the driver to work out immediately whether the tyres, the chassis or the aerodynamics influence a particular aspect of its behaviour."