Jordan driver Jarno Trulli stole Ferrari's thunder the opening day of practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, second round of this year 's FIA Formula 1 world championship. The Italian flew around the 5.557-kilometre Sepang track in 1m 38.846s to...
Jordan driver Jarno Trulli stole Ferrari's thunder the opening day of practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, second round of this year 's FIA Formula 1 world championship. The Italian flew around the 5.557-kilometre Sepang track in 1m 38.846s to pip the Ferraris of world champion Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. There was great encouragement for Michelin, which has not previously run its F1 tyres in Malaysia: the Jaguars of Eddie Irvine and Luciano Burti set fifth and eighth fastest times.
Jordan believes it can regularly challenge pre-season favourites Ferrari and McLaren this season - and Trulli underlined that today. His team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen was also close to the pace, in seventh place. The McLarens of David Coulthard and former world champion Mika Hakkinen were fourth and sixth fastest.
While Jaguar Racing led the Michelin challenge, the firm's other teams had a trying day. Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1) was 10th, but his team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya failed to record a proper timed lap after fuel pick-up problems in the morning and an electrical problem in the afternoon forced him to spent most of the two-hour session in the pits.
Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton Renault Sport) survived an off-course excursion to set 13th fastest time, Jenson Button (Benetton Renault Sport) was 17th, Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer) 16th and Gaston Mazzacane (Prost-Acer) 19th.
Both European Minardi drivers had problems on their first visit to the track. Tarso Marques stopped with an engine problem in the second part of the session and Fernando Alonso was stuck in the pits for most of the first hour because his car refused to run cleanly. They eventually set 20th and 21st times respectively.
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director):
"At this early stage after just the free practice session, I think we can say that we seem better than we were at Melbourne in terms of overall c ompetitivity, judging by the performance of some of our cars."
"With the little information we have been able to gather on our two tyres here in Sepang, I think the choice between them will be very difficult. Generally, it's sliding that increases tyre temperatures which consequently adversely affect tyre performance and wear. The more you slide, the worse for a tyre, while the less you slide, the more the tyre is allowed to work in its proper operating range. So if one of our tyres, even the soft, sl ides less here in Sepang, it could prove to be the judicious choice, while remembering that this may mean a different race strategy."
Communication Compétition Tél : +33 (0)4 73 30 45 90 46, rue du Ressort Fax : +33 (0)4 73 30 49 81 63100 Cle rmont-Ferrand Ÿ France Internet : www.michelinsport.com