Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jarno Trulli were fifth and ninth fastest at the end of a cautious first day of practice for the Benson and Hedges Jordan team on the streets of Monte Carlo. 'The set-up of the car is not ideal yet,' said Frentzen.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jarno Trulli were fifth and ninth fastest at the end of a cautious first day of practice for the Benson and Hedges Jordan team on the streets of Monte Carlo.
'The set-up of the car is not ideal yet,' said Frentzen. 'This is typical of the first day at Monaco. It was a bit of a fight with the car going between understeer and oversteer and I have been working on finding a better balance for qualifying on Saturday. When the car is not working the way you want, it's a case of fine tuning and working on the line you take just to get the car through each corner. That's part of the challenge of this circuit and I really like it. But, one mistake and you're out!'
Trulli did well to finish the day without a mark on his car.
'I basically lost the morning session because the suspension development fitted to my car turned out not to suit the circuit,' said Jarno. 'So I more or less had to start from scratch for the afternoon session, working back to where I wanted to be with the set-up of the car. It still feels very nervous - which is not what you want at this place!'
Monaco remains one of the toughest circuits on the F1 calendar, the close proximity of the walls and kerbs waiting to catch the unwary. A wheel just one inch out of line can spell disaster - as Ralf Schumacher (Williams), Nick Heidfeld (Prost), Alex Wurz (Benetton) and Pedro Diniz (Sauber) discovered when they crashed - all without injury - at various stages during the two one-hour sessions.
The first day of practice turned out to be more or less a private battle between Mika Hakkinen and the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher, the McLaren driver putting in the fastest time in the closing minutes to beat the championship leader by less than a tenth of a second.
Like Frentzen, Hakkinen said he spent the day fine-tuning his car, particularly on the middle sector of the lap which snakes past the Casino and plunges down to the sea-front, an area where he had previously been losing time to Schumacher.
David Coulthard (McLaren) was more than half a second behind in third place, but just ahead of Eddie Irvine, with Frentzen a couple of tenths behind the Jaguar.