FIFTH FOR PANIS IN FREE PRACTICE Olivier Panis (Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda) ended Friday free practice in Spain fastest of the Honda-powered foursome with the fifth fastest time overall. Giancarlo Fisichella (DHL Jordan Honda) was eighth fastest...
FIFTH FOR PANIS IN FREE PRACTICE
Olivier Panis (Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda) ended Friday free practice in Spain fastest of the Honda-powered foursome with the fifth fastest time overall. Giancarlo Fisichella (DHL Jordan Honda) was eighth fastest while his Jordan Honda team-mate Takuma Sato was 14th. B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve set the 16th fastest time.
B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis completed 19 laps and set the 13th fastest time in the morning of 1m22.277s while team-mate Jacques Villeneuve completed 17 laps and set a best time of 1m22.645s. In the second session Panis completed a further 27 laps and improved on his time by a second and a half, setting a best lap and 5th fastest time overall of 1m20.758s while Villeneuve set the 16th fastest time of 1m21.413s, improving on his initial time by just over a second.
The first timed session of the day did not go according to plan for Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato, whose car came to a halt at the start of the session at the end of pit lane due to a sensor connector problem in the car's electrical system. Sato was therefore unable to complete any timed laps in the morning but went on to complete 20 laps in the second session and set the 14th fastest time overall of 1m21.351s, just nine tenths of a second off the pace.
His Jordan Honda team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella set the ninth fastest time in the morning of 1m21.981s, completing 17 laps. The Italian completed a further 20 laps in the second session and improved on his time by eight tenths of a second, recording a best lap of 1m21.169s, the eighth fastest time overall.
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher set the pace as the Circuit de Catalunya bathed in glorious sunshine (24 degrees), closely followed by Heinz Harald Frentzen (Arrows) and Jenson Button (Renault). Rubens Barrichello recorded the fourth fastest time in the second Ferrari while Olivier Panis (B.A.R Honda) and Enrique Bernoldi (Arrows) set the fifth and sixth fastest times of the day.
Shuhei Nakamoto Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development
"We've had a good day today apart from Takuma not being able to run in the first session. We have made a small improvement on the engine since Imola and all four Honda-powered drivers will be using the new evolution engine for qualifying and the race on Sunday. We're looking forward to seeing what we can achieve when we run the engine with higher revs."
Olivier Panis Position: 5th
"I'm very pleased with how practice went for me today; 5th position is a big improvement after the last few races. We had a good test at Silverstone last week and we have taken a small step forward in terms of engine performance for this race. Honda have been working very hard to improve the engine race by race and we can see that beginning to show here. 5th place is a great way to start the weekend and a good boost for the team. I'm happy with the tyre options so far but we still have a lot of work to do because qualifying is another day."
Giancarlo Fisichella Position: 8th
"Today was not bad at all and I think we look alright compared with the competition. The problem is that the grip levels are very low - it's quite different on the track than during Winter testing and the car oversteers much more in these warmer conditions. But we are going in the right direction on the set up and I think we can improve by at least three tenths tomorrow as we have a few more things for the engine and chassis. If we are in the top ten tomorrow we will have done a good job."
Takuma Sato Position: 14th
"We caught up quite well today after a bad start when I suffered from an electrical connection failure just as I was exiting the pits which meant I lost the entire session. At least it happened here in Spain where I know the circuit very well but the conditions on the track are quite different from the winter testing so I could have done with more time to work on the car's balance. I think we've collected good data though and I believe we will be in good shape tomorrow."
Jacques Villeneuve Position: 16th
"We've seen a small difference here today and small differences always help. This track tends towards a lot of understeer which usually suits us but we're not quite there with my set-up yet. We've done a lot of work exploring the tyre options and we have a reasonably good race set-up so far but Olivier seems to have found a better qualifying set-up. Generally, I'm happy to see some improvement, however small."