Ralf top after French GP Saturday practices

Ralf Schumacher finished top of the times after Saturday's two practice sessions for the French Grand Prix, the Williams man setting a best of 1:14.966. Teammate Juan Pablo Montoya was half a second behind, ahead of David Coulthard, in what was an...

Ralf Schumacher finished top of the times after Saturday's two practice sessions for the French Grand Prix, the Williams man setting a best of 1:14.966. Teammate Juan Pablo Montoya was half a second behind, ahead of David Coulthard, in what was an uneventful morning.

After the confusion with Saturday times in Europe, it appears that once again the two forty-five minute practices are being taken as separate sessions, rather than combining the times overall.

It was dry and cloudy for both sessions and Michael Schumacher started with a 1:16.617, followed by Rubens Barrichello just behind, the Ferrari pair making the initial running. The Renaults of Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli were also front runners, along with Toyota's Olivier Panis.

Ralf Schumacher was next to the top of the times, 1:16.291, and Williams teammate Juan Pablo Montoya into third. The McLarens remained in the pits aside from an early installation lap until 20 minutes gone. David Coulthard missed the chicane and went onto the grass and Kimi Raikkonen set the fifth time on his run.

Montoya, Barrichello and Michael traded second fastest and Mark Webber moved into the top eight. Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen went off track at Chateau d'eau, Antonio Pizzonia went off at Imola and Jenson Button's engine blew at the end of the session. Alonso went to the top with a 1:16.076, just a tenth ahead of Barrichello.

Raikkonen was fastest first off in the second session, 1:17.438, followed by Trulli with a 1:16.745. Webber and Alonso traded second until Montoya stepped in, and Ralf up to fourth. Jacques Villeneuve went sixth fastest and Raikkonen returned to the top with a 1:16.012. Button remained in the garage as BAR tried to get a new engine in the car.

Coulthard overtook Raikkonen by four tenths, 1:15.600, the first into the 1:15 bracket. Alonso moved up to third and Webber to fourth, Michael and Barrichello completing the top six. Montoya demoted the McLarens by just a couple of thousandths, 1:15.577, then Ralf with a 1:14.966, half a second better, the times dropping steadily. Coulthard spun at Lycee but managed to get back on track.

Jordan was the back markers, along with the Minardis, the bottom six lapping some three seconds off Ralf. Michael improved to fourth but still nearly a second slower than his brother. An engine failure put paid to Jos Verstappen's morning and Button managed to scramble out on track in the final minutes.

A fairly sedate morning, there was the usual bit of activity at the end but no changes at the top. Final top eight classification: R. Schumacher, Montoya, Coulthard, M. Schumacher, Raikkonen, Alonso, Webber, Panis.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan