Monaco GP - Blazing sunshine in Monaco Monte Carlo, 24th May - In under one and a half hours the 59th edition of the Monaco Grand Prix will be underway. At eleven o'clock, the traffic light at the end of the pit lane will turn green and the...
Monaco GP - Blazing sunshine in Monaco
Monte Carlo, 24th May - In under one and a half hours the 59th edition of the Monaco Grand Prix will be underway. At eleven o'clock, the traffic light at the end of the pit lane will turn green and the first cars will go on track to check out the conditions. A splendid sunshine is bathing the Monte Carlo bay in bright light and the early arrivals in the grandstands are picking up their first sun tan of the year. More privileged are those who can watch the action from all the boats in the harbour and for them if it gets to hot, they can simply weigh anchor and head out to sea.
However, the mechanics and engineers from the eleven teams have little time to think about the sun and the sea as they prepare to tackle the grand prix. At nine sharp as usual, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro mechanics began the warm-up procedure on the two cars to be used in the two hours of free practice today, by Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello: chassis 210 for the world champion and 206 for the Brazilian. At nine thirty the first technical briefing gets underway to define the day's programme. At 10.15 as usual will come the pit stop practice. On this circuit the mechanics' job is even harder as space is so limited. Given that the usual strategy allows for just a single pit stop and that overtaking is well nigh impossible, the perfect coordination of work in the pits is even more important than usual.
Monaco GP - Trulli one of the threee Directors of GPDA
Monte Carlo, 24th May - Jarno Trulli is now one of the directors of the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers Association) the organisation which represents all the Formula 1 drivers. The Italian driver was elected at a meeting held in the Hotel Colombus here in Monte Carlo. Trulli replaces Alex Wurz, alongside Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard. The GPDA was founded here in Monte Carlo on 11th May 1961, by a group of drivers comprising Cliff Allison, Joakim Bonnier, Jack Brabham, Tony Brooks, Jim Clark, Gregory Masten, Olivier Gendebien, Dan Gurney, Graham Hill, Innes Ireland, Bruce McLaren, Phill Hill, Stirling Moss, Henry Taylor, Maurice Trintignant, Wolfgang von Trips, Roy Salvadori and John Surtees.
Having been instrumental in the Sixties and the first part of the next decade in improving safety in motor sport, the GPDA became more active again after the terrible events of the weekend in Imola in 1994, when on two successive days, Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna both lost their lives. The drivers once again felt a need to have their voice heard and under the leadership of Gerhard Berger, Martin Brundle and Michael Schumacher, in December that year, they created a new GPDA, still active today. Much of the work this year is aimed at improving circuit safety.
Monaco GP - Hakkinen sets the pace in
Monte Carlo, 24th May - By the end of the first day's free practice for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix it was the 'local' boy Mika Hakkinen that retained the fastest time of the day only four-tenths of a second outside Michael Schumacher's 2000 pole winning time and almost half a second ahead of the German's best time today. Having set impressive times in testing at the Valencia circuit last week, it looks as though the McLaren-Mercedes team will once again be Ferrari's strongest rivals around the challenging Monaco track which saw Mika kiss the barriers twice during the day, without serious damage to the car. David Coulthard had a harder knock with his car at Tabac corner when he slid wide, the Scotsman losing time in the pits as the team changed the rear right corner ending the day in sixth position.
Both drivers used two sets of tyres for the day. Schumacher well placed for Scuderia-Ferrari Marlboro. Michael Schumacher set the second fastest time of the day for Ferrari after being fastest overall at the end of the morning session. The team has been working on tyre choice and chassis set-up on the 'green' track today, both drivers having an incident free day. "I was struggling with understeer and oversteer on the 'green' track, which is always a problem in Monaco" said Michael, who only ran one set of tyres and is hoping to improve things Saturday before qualifying. "The car is working quite well here, but the track is very slippery which could make the tyre choice for the race quite tricky," he added. Rubens Barrichello was fourth quickest for the day, six-tenths behind his teammate. He Used three sets of tyres and was happy with his day's work. "I am very satisfied as the car is a lot more competitive than it was last year." said Rubens despite some early brake balance problems. Both cars, like the majority of the field, had a revised high downforce aerodynamic package for this race after tests at Maranello last week.
Bad day for the BMW-Williams team.
Despite Ralf Schumacher's overall third fastest time and Juan-Pablo Montoya back in tenth spot, it was a bad day for the BMW-Williams team. Ralf Schumacher crashed at the first part of the swimming pool chicane badly damaging the front and rear end of his car. Juan Pablo Montoya damaged the rear right corner of his car when he spun under braking for the Rascasse chicane causing a red flag for a few minutes while the marshals cleared his car. "It was my fault, I was going to fast," said Ralf. Montoya also blamed himself for his accident, but also sited too much understeer as his real problem of the day.
Trulli fifth for Jordan-Honda.
Jarno Trulli had troubles getting comfortable with his car at the start of the day, but ended up a competitive fifth fastest overall, his car also running a new central body-wing just ahead of the driver. "It seems to be OK and does not bother me when driving," said Jarno. We will analyze things tomorrow and see it we continue with it on Saturday," said Jarno. Frentzen was seventh fastest; the German not running the wing which he had not had the chance to test in Valencia. He preferred the harder tyres. "It was generally a good first day with no major trouble. We got through the program, but my practice start did not work because the engine stalled before I could try it because of another problem," said Heinz.
Alesi shines for Prost.
Jean Alesi's courage and skill on this sort of circuit saw him take the eighth fastest time for the Prost team, his team-mate Burti back in 19th spot, although it was the Brazilian's first open wheel appearance in Monaco. "I did not want to crash the car, so I took things easy to learn the track and also evaluate new aerodynamic things we have on the car," said Burti.
Villeneuve takes top 10 spot.
Jacques Villeneuve managed to get his BAR into the top 10 for this race despite a coup-le of straight-on incidents at a couple of corners. Former Monaco winner Olivier Panis also slid straight on at St. Devote and lost 55 minutes of running time when he stalled the engine leaving him back in 16th spot.
Jaguar still in 'old' spec.
There was no surprise from the Jaguar team to see Eddie Irvine back in 12th place to-day, the Irishman not running a fresh set of tyres, had a spin at the chicane just before the end of the session, but above all still using the old aerodynamic package here. "We have the new aerodynamics here, but only one set per car, so we intend to fit it on Saturday," said Eddie Irvine. Pedro de la Rosa only managed nine laps for the day after he went off on the corner before Portier and damaged the front left corner, which kept him in the pits for the rest of the day.
Raikkonen and Heidfeld were unable to better 13th and 14th times, both drivers complaining of yellow flags and traffic, while Raikkonen had the added problem of learning the circuit. "I am confident I can make the top 10 on Saturday," said the Finn. The Arrows of Jos Verstappen was running a new nose mounted front wing today. "It feels better," confirmed Verstappen who was over half a second ahead of Bernoldi in 18th place. Electrical trouble kept Fisichella in the pits for a long time, but he came back to set 11th fastest time for Benetton, his teammate Button17th fastest. Tarso Marques damaged the back end of his Minardi in the morning when he spun into Rascasse. He managed to get out again in the afternoon to lap quicker than Alonso who also spun at the same spot, but with less damage to his car.