The temperature at the start of today's first free practice was a sweltering 30C, track temperature 35C. Half a dozen drivers immediately took to the track, followed swiftly by the rest of the grid to put in an installation lap, the Jaguars of...
The temperature at the start of today's first free practice was a sweltering 30C, track temperature 35C. Half a dozen drivers immediately took to the track, followed swiftly by the rest of the grid to put in an installation lap, the Jaguars of Pedro de la Rosa and Eddie Irvine setting the first times of the day. The Minardis showed well early on, both Mark Webber and Alex Yoong inside the top six until Webber went off and prematurely ended his session. Arrows and Jordan both were on the early pace, Enrique Bernoldi claimed the top spot for Arrows for a while, Fisichella in second.
David Coulthard's McLaren went up in smoke with engine failure almost as soon as he took to the track in earnest, an ominous start for the Scot, while Sauber were doing well -- both Nick Heidfeld and Felipe Massa inside the top eight. Almost half the session was over before Michael Schumacher drove out again and immediately set the fastest time on his flying lap, a 1.39.462, well under the low 1.40s everyone else was setting.
Renault's Jenson Button put in a fast lap to jump into fifth, the two Williams' hot on his heels. The BARs were midfielding in 10th and 11th while the Minardis early form dropped off when the top teams got going. Toyota also put in a an early show which didn't last; Arrows had a bewildering display, Bernoldi up in third at one point, Heinz-Harald Frentzen down in 20th. Coulthard ended up pushing his McLaren down the pit lane himself while team mate Kimi Raikkonen remained inside the top ten.
Renault's Jarno Trulli finally got a competitive lap in, clocking just behind team mate Button, while Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya experienced gearbox problems -- but he remained inside the top eight. Frentzen managed to catch up with team mate Bernoldi by putting his Arrows into sixth and Sauber's Nick Heidfeld had his brakes cooled after getting slightly overheated. Rubens Barrichello made it a Ferrari 1-2 in the last ten minutes and Jordan's Takuma Sato made the final classification: M. Schumacher, 1.38.626; Barrichello, Heidfeld, Bernoldi, Button, Sato.