Aussie GP warm-up: DC heads McLaren one-two

It was an all-McLaren-Mercedes affair at the top of the time sheets after the warm-up for today's Australian Grand Prix, with David Coulthard pipping team mate Mika Hakkinen for the number one spot

Aussie GP warm-up: DC heads McLaren one-two

After spending much of the session in last place, Coulthard put in a last gasp effort to finish top with just 30 seconds remaining. The Scotsman struggled during yesterday's (Saturday's) qualifying session and looked to be having further trouble in the final practice session before the season-opening race, but managed to finish fastest, just 0.053s ahead of Hakkinen.

The top position was occupied by four different drivers in the last minute of the half hour session, with Jos Verstappen losing out to British American Racing's Olivier Panis, who was subsequently demoted by Hakkinen and then finally Coulthard.

Verstappen occupied the top spot for almost 20 minutes, but finished an encouraging third in his Arrows-AMT. The Dutchman was closely followed by a flying Juan Pablo Montoya, who used every inch of the Albert Park circuit - and a little bit more - to go fourth fastest.

Panis had to make do with fifth, some eight places ahead of 1997 world champion and team mate Jacques Villeneuve.

After a light sprinkling of rain, the drivers were greeted by slightly slippery conditions on the Melbourne circuit and almost half the field took a trip across the grass at the Brabham chicane at the end of the pit straight - ominous for this afternoon's first lap?

One of the few drivers not straight-line the third gear right-left was pole man Michael Schumacher, who finished in sixth place. His Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello, who will start the race alongside the German on the grid, finished ninth.

Sauber star Nick Heidfeld continued to impress in his Ferrari-engined C20 and took seventh spot ahead of Eddie Irvine, who continued to struggle with the handling of his Jaguar.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen was the surprise of qualifying and will line up fourth on the grid, but the German rounded out the top 10 in his Jordan-Honda in this morning's session.

The Benetton nightmare continued for Giancarlo Fisichella and British ace Jenson Button. The duo finished 20th and 21st, more than four seconds off the pace of the leaders, with only the European Minardi of Tarso Marques behind them.

More embarrassing still, however, was the unfortunate incident which befell Formula 1 new boy Enrique Bernoldi. As the cars poured onto the track at the beginning of the session, the young Brazilian exited the pit lane to begin his first Grand Prix warm-up.

A heavy right foot caused the rear wheels of the 22-year-old's Arrows to spin, pitching him into the wall. He escaped with nothing more than a broken nose cone and red face, but team boss Tom Walkinshaw will hope any nerves are out of his new signing's system before the race.

For full warm-up Results, click here.

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