Imola, 13th April - As the pace heated up on a dry track for the second free practice session it was again the Scuderia Ferrari-Marlboro team which set the pace with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello taking the fastest times seven-tenth's...
Imola, 13th April - As the pace heated up on a dry track for the second free practice session it was again the Scuderia Ferrari-Marlboro team which set the pace with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello taking the fastest times seven-tenth's of a second ahead of their opposition, Barrichello trailing Schumacher by just 0.27 seconds after a trouble free session. "The car feels quite good. We worked on comparing tyres and basic set-up, I expect the times to be quicker again tomorrow if it remains dry," said Schumacher, who ended up just three tenth's away from last year's pole position time. "The car is well balanced in both wet and dry conditions. Brazil was an exception," pointed out Michael. Rubens Barrichello tried a different set-up to Michael and was also happy with his day.
Good and bad news for BMW-Williams.
It was a case of good and bad news for the BMW-Williams team here. Once again it looks as though the team will be challenging Ferrari for the honours this weekend with Ralf Schumacher surviving another early trip across a gravel trap to take the third fastest time half a second ahead of his closest rival. "The handling is still very nervous, but it is encouraging to be so far ahead of the McLarens," he said. The bad news came for Juan-Pablo Montoya who didn't manage to run a single lap this after because of an engine problem. "I heard a noise on my first lap out of the pits and the team told me to come back in," said Montoya.
Hakkinen heads McLaren challenge.
After working on dialing out understeer for most of the session, Mika Hakkinen ran a new set of tyres at the end to set what was to be the fourth fastest time of the day for McLaren. David Coulthard was a distant 11th quickest after going off the road at Acque Minerale on his quick lap on a new set of tyres. He stalled the engine and was unable to continue the session with 12 minutes to go. He was complaining of high-speed oversteer during the session.
Panis fifth for BAR.
Olivier Panis was an impressive fifth fastest for the BAR team whose cars have been extensively modified aerodynamically since the last race. "It is a definite improvement," said Panis after curing an understeer problem and setting his best lap on fresh tyres. Jacques Villeneuve was back in eighth place, working on the front suspension for much of the session after having problems with the handling over the kerbs.
Raikkonen sixth for Sauber.
Kimi Raikkonen continued to show impressive form for Sauber with the sixth fastest time, the team working on tyres and brakes for the race. "It was not my best lap, but still a good one," said Kimi. Nick Heidfeld was unable to better 12th spot, his best lap on fresh tyres spoiled by traffic. However he was still encouraged by the performance of the Sauber chassis in both wet and dry conditions. "It is particularly good in the wet," revealed Nick.
Jordan working on the race.
Despite only ninth and 13th quickest times for Jordan drivers Trulli and Frentzen respectively , neither driver was disappointed having spent the day working on race set-up. "I think we will be higher up in qualification," says Jarno.
Jaguar were on the pace to-day, Eddie Irvine doing well to take seventh with a lot of fuel on board, while Luciano Burti made the top 10 despite having never raced here before. Jean Alesi was a lot happier with his Prost at this race, despite fourteenth place and Mazzacane back in 16th spot. "We have some aerodynamic changes and different brakes which have improved the car, especially the new Michelin tyres we have here, " says Jean.