M. Schumacher leads Friday practice at Belgian GP

By Cam Curwood - Motorsport.com For Friday practice at the Belgian GP, one could have forgiven Michael Schumacher for taking it easy after clinching the championship at the previous race in Hungary, but he did not. Schumacher set a quick time...

By Cam Curwood - Motorsport.com

For Friday practice at the Belgian GP, one could have forgiven Michael Schumacher for taking it easy after clinching the championship at the previous race in Hungary, but he did not. Schumacher set a quick time early Friday morning, and remained atop the time-sheets for all but a few minutes of Friday practice. Reubens Barrichello, who finished the day with the third fastest time behind Jarno Trulli, briefly held the top stop until Schumacher set the fastest time of the day with a 1'48"655 exactly half way through the first session.

Heinz Harald Frentzen was the first driver to see the track, attempting to get more comfortable in the Prost, and most drivers made early installations laps. For some drivers, the day did not last long at all. David Coulthard hit the kerb at Fanges, spun into the wall, and his day was over 18 minutes into the first practice. Five minutes later Jacques Villeneuve also spun at Fanges, hit the gravel and his morning was done. Luciano Burti was also unable to set a competitive time.

Trulli and Barrichello battled much of the session for second, with Trulli taking the position at the flag. The other Jordan of Jean Alesi also had a good session, finishing in 6th place, behind Ralf Schumacher 5th, and Mika Hakkinen 4th.

The results of the first session would just about be the results of the day, as the second session was, as often happens at Spa, a wet one, and only a handful of drivers improved their times. It began raining at about the 14 minute mark of the session, so all the improvements were made before then. One of those to improve was Jacques Villeneuve who jumped from 20th to the 15th position. The biggest and best improvement was by Giancarlo Fisichella who jumped up to finish the day in 4th position. Kimi Raikkonen jumped from 7th to 6th, Eddie Irvine from 12th to 8th, and a few others made marginal improvements.

The rain did not stop the drivers from taking to the track however. Almost all came out to test their wet set-ups, and the typical rain induced havoc ensued. Alesi, as would perhaps be expected, was the first to brave the wet conditions. Jenson Button had a trip onto the grass, and Michael Schumacher ran into the back of Pedro de La Rosa just before Eau Rouge, breaking the nose of his Ferrari, and giving De la Rosa a puncture. Trulli flew off the road at Les Combes and then later again at La Source. Juan Pablo Montoya had a big crash at Les Combes, and the session ended with Alesi spinning at La Source.

David Coulthard did not appear at all in the second session.

The weather in Spa is often volatile, and Saturday could be dry, wet, or most likely, both. The drivers have experienced all conditions on Friday, and with a slightly different look to the top of the times, notably Fisichella in 4th, Saturday could bring a volatile starting grid too.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Giancarlo Fisichella , Jarno Trulli , Ralf Schumacher , Jean Alesi , David Coulthard , Jacques Villeneuve , Kimi Raikkonen
Teams Ferrari , Jordan