Michael Schumacher dominated the first free practice session of the US Grand Prix despite only completing four laps. The reigning champion set a fastest of 1:15.188 early on, which failed to be bettered. Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello...
Michael Schumacher dominated the first free practice session of the US Grand Prix despite only completing four laps. The reigning champion set a fastest of 1:15.188 early on, which failed to be bettered. Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello crashed out of the session and Michael kept a low profile afterwards as the team tried to find out what had happened to Barrichello's car.
The start of the practice saw the usual shakedown laps on a track with a temperature of around 20C and slightly damp in places. Renault's Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli put in some early running, Trulli out on wet tyres while the track was still green and slippery. Button took the top of the times ahead of his team mate and Jaguar's Pedro de la Rosa.
Minardi and BAR were also active early on, both Mark Webber and Alex Yoong in the top ten. Olivier Panis took the fastest time until Michael Schumacher took to the track, the German putting his Ferrari at the top on his first timed lap. Mika Salo set the third quickest time and Juan Pablo Montoya fourth.
Williams' team mate Ralf Schumacher went out on dry Michelins and had a minor spin, as did Webber, but Barrichello was less fortunate. In the banked corner of the circuit he lost control of the Ferrari and crashed into the wall, bringing out the red flags half way through the session. The Brazilian was unhurt and had to sit out the rest of the session -- and will probably miss the next one -- as the car was badly damaged.
The McLarens had yet to set a time by then and were swiftly out on track after the session was restarted, as were many cars. David Coulthard managed the top ten but Kimi Raikkonen languished in the back markers until near the end. Jordan were running well with Giancarlo Fisichella up to second, although the Italian also spun, and Takuma Sato just inside the top ten.
Eddie Irvine and de la Rosa were also in the thick of it along with Heinz-Harald Frentzen on his first outing for Sauber. Frentzen replaces Felipe Massa for this weekend and team mate Nick Heidfeld was up to fifth quickest at one point.
While Salo kept in the top ten for Toyota, Allan McNish had a less interesting session down in sixteenth, followed by Jacques Villeneuve. Button continued his pace, up to third until picked off by Irvine and Montoya also in the top six. Ralf spun again and this time damaged the rear wing.
The times changed fairly quickly in the top ten with Jaguar, Jordan, Renault and Sauber doing a lot of swapping places. Less than a second separated the top eleven and second placed Fisichella was only three tenths of a second behind Michael Schumacher, who held sway at the top without disturbance despite doing so few laps.
Montoya remained constant for Williams, although Ralf was erratic and the McLarens seemed off the pace. Bridgestone and Michelin had five apiece in the top ten, the two Jordans being the best Michelin runners after the Bridgestone shod Ferrari of Michael. Final top six classification: M. Schumacher, Fisichella, de la Rosa, Irvine, Montoya, Sato.