After a quiet first session, the second free practice for the French Grand Prix had more activity. McLaren were hot on the pace, David Coulthard setting the fastest time of 1:14.025 and team mate Kimi Raikkonen only just behind in second. The ...
After a quiet first session, the second free practice for the French Grand Prix had more activity. McLaren were hot on the pace, David Coulthard setting the fastest time of 1:14.025 and team mate Kimi Raikkonen only just behind in second. The McLaren-Michelin package was obviously working well and proved unbeatable.
The first ten minutes saw a lot of minor incidents: Jarno Trulli came off the track at the 180 hairpin and ended his session in the gravel trap. Takuma Sato also took to the gravel, at Estoril, but managed to keep going. Allan McNish had a slightly abortive start when his car stalled at the pit lane exit and Olivier Panis went off briefly at Chateau d'Eau but kept the BAR going. Chateau d'Eau proved popular, Ralf Schumacher spinning the Williams there just afterwards. Juan Pablo Montoya went off at Estoril but managed to avoid any damage.
Michael Schumacher took over the top spot early on, sixth tenths faster than the top time set by Barrichello in the first session, but was swiftly eclipsed by Coulthard. Barrichello had to settle for fourth quickest. Williams were in and out of the top six, concentrating more on race preparations than fast times. Jenson Button was in the top six for a while and the front runners were lapping some four seconds faster than the Minardis at the back.
The best improvements were Toyota and Jaguar: both Allan McNish and Mika Salo in the top ten until Salo suffered a blown engine. Eddie Irvine was up to sixth and Pedro de la Rosa eighth, Jaguar looked much more competitive in the session.
Sauber and Jordan kept a fairly low profile, Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fischella in and out of the top ten but Nick Heidfeld and Takuma Sato further back down the field. BAR didn't show much improvement from the first session, still struggling towards the rear of the midfield. Olivier Panis managed fourteenth and Jacques Villeneuve was seventeenth. Minardi stayed with tradition and remained last.
Arrows were once again absent from the track due to their ongoing problems. Irvine and Michael both spun in the last few minutes, without mishap, and it must have been something of a relief for Irvine to find himself in the top six. The Ferraris were the only Bridgestone runners in the top ten, Michelin proving the better performers. Final top six classification: Coulthard, Raikkonen, M. Schumacher, Barrichello, R. Schumacher, Irvine.