Monaco Grand Prix Free practice, Thursday 2001 May, 24 Hakkinen on top ÂRalf third Mika Hakkinen set a blistering pace on the opening day of practice at the Monaco Grand Prix, seventh round of this year's Formula 1 World Championship. The...
Monaco Grand Prix
Free practice, Thursday 2001 May, 24
Hakkinen on top Ralf third
Mika Hakkinen set a blistering pace on the opening day of practice at the Monaco Grand Prix, seventh round of this year's Formula 1 World Championship. The Finn, who is looking to score his first win since last August's Belgian Grand Prix, lapped in 1m 19.853s almost half a second faster than current championship leader Michael Schumacher's Ferrari.
The German driver's younger brother Ralf set third fastest time for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, but the San Marino GP winner crashed shortly before the end of the session. He emerged unhurt, but his Williams FW23 chassis was badly damaged. Schumacher Jnr was not the only Williams driver in trouble. Earlier in the session his team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya spun into the barriers at Rascasse corner, dislodged his car's rear wing and stalled in the middle of the track. As a result, practice was briefly halted to allow debris to be cleared. The Colombian ended up 10th quickest.
Frenchman Jean Alesi, who has traditionally excelled on street circuits, had his best day of the season so far and set eighth fastest time in his Michelin-equipped Prost-Acer. On his first appearance at Monaco in an F1 car, Alesi's team- mate Luciano Burti concentrated on learning the track and completed a total of 51 laps, more than any other driver.
Of the other Michelin drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella and Jenson Button (Benetton Renault Sport) were 11th and 17th, Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing) were 12th and 22nd and Tarso Marques and Fernando Alonso (European Minardi) were 20th and 21st. Spaniard de la Rosa only managed nine laps in the morning before sliding into the barriers and putting himself on the sidelines for the balance of the day. Both Minardi drivers also snagged the guardrails during the session.
MICHELIN'S RACE : Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) :
"Conditions changed notably between the two sessions. The opening laps this morning helped sweep the track clean and it was quite abrasive once things got into full swing. As more rubber was laid down, however, the circuit became easier on tyres. The ascent at Beau Rivage was quite slippery, because the road surface is fairly old at that point on the circuit. But the nature of the track will change considerably between now and Sunday. It will become faster and less abrasive as the weekend goes on. That is a particular characteristic of Monaco."
"We are fairly satisfied with our performance during this opening session. We perhaps have a little more performance in hand, which could help our partner teams when it comes to figuring out a race strategy. Having said that, if the track becomes a lot less abrasive, it's possible that we could have got away with running a slightly softer compound."
Which to choose compound A or B?
"There is nothing to choose between compounds in terms of performance, but in terms of technical composition they are very different. Their construction is identical but their characteristics differ because we have used different kinds of rubber. So far, one seems to be performing very well and is more suitable than the other."
Michelin innovations for Monaco
"One of our two compounds is totally new. Monaco isn't a track that necessarily demands the softest compounds of the season, because the track can be quite hard on tyres. It only takes is a shower, a cooler breeze or harder rubber laid down by cars in support races to make the surface more abrasive. It is therefore best to be cautious."