An overcast but dry morning initially for the first free practice of the European Grand Prix at a slightly changed Nurburgring. The first corner has been altered, as has the stadium section of the infield which should make the circuit slower than...
An overcast but dry morning initially for the first free practice of the European Grand Prix at a slightly changed Nurburgring. The first corner has been altered, as has the stadium section of the infield which should make the circuit slower than before. Track temperature was a moderate 18C when the pit exit opened and Jordan's Takuma Sato was first man on track.
All bar the Ferraris were out in the first five minutes to put in installation laps and test the new circuit. Michael Schumacher was greeted with a roar of approval from the crowd when he took to the track shortly afterwards, followed by Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello. Arrows' Enrique Bernoldi led the times early on from the two Toyotas and was the first spinner of the day.
The Saubers were on the pace in the first half of the session, Felipe Massa leading Nick Heidfeld, while Williams, Jordan and Renault all had both cars in the top ten. A quiet practice as the drivers took their time altering set-up and acclimatizing to the track -- the first corner appears to be much tighter than before. Barrichello took the fastest time from Jarno Trulli by over a second, swiftly overtaken by Schumacher, the Ferraris down into the 1:34 bracket.
Olivier Panis managed to get into the top ten but the other BAR of Jacques Villeneuve was down the times, along with Jaguar and Minardi. Ferrari continued to trade the fastest time, Barrichello dropping into the 1:33s. McLaren had David Coulthard third quickest but Kimi Raikkonen took his time getting into the top ten. Bernoldi spun again at the exit of Ford, some rain had started to fall on certain areas of the circuit and the session got even quieter. Track conditions were not too bad and Massa improved to third fastest behind the Ferraris.
The McLarens had only put in seven laps apiece by the last ten minutes. Sato stopped at the Dunlop corner with some kind of problem and Mark Webber also suffered a problem as his Minardi was wheeled back into the garage. Heidfeld improved to third in the final minutes and the Toyota of Allan McNish to fourth. Final top six classification: Barrichello, M. Schumacher, Heidfeld, McNish, Massa, Coulthard.