Free practice 1: DC off to a flyer

David Coulthard knows that, for now anyway, it's down to him to keep his wavering world championship hopes alive. At the Nurburgring, in the first free practice for Sunday's European Grand Prix, the Scot got off to a perfect start by shattered his existing pole position time by 0.641s

Free practice 1: DC off to a flyer

Coulthard's McLaren-Mercedes stopped the clocks at 1m16.888s, with his team mate Mika Hakkinen in second on 1m17.022s. The Finn says that despite being out of the world title running after a disastrous first half to his season, he will be going all out for wins in the next few races - not playing second fiddle to DC.

Designer Adrian Newey was back in the McLaren garage after missing Canada at the height of the 'Neweygate' contract affair and whether his talismanic presence was a factor or not, the MP4-16s were superior to the Ferraris.

Michael Schumacher finished the hour-long session third, 0.655s behind Hakkinen, with Rubens Barrichello recovering from a grassy off to set the fourth fastest time.

Jarno Trulli spent the first half of the session in the Jordan-Honda garage, but appeared with enough time remaining to bed himself in and set the fifth fastest time, ahead of the Sauber-Petronas of rookie sensation Kimi Raikkonen.

Trulli's team mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen used the session as a test of his own physical wellbeing after missing the Canadian GP with a lingering concussion. The German wound up 13th overall, just one place behind the Williams-BMW of Juan Pablo Montoya.

With air temperatures only just hitting double figures, the Michelin runners were unable to give a good account of themselves. Canada winner Ralf Schumacher was fastest of the French-shod cars, putting his Williams only 10th on the time sheets.

Jenson Button finished the session 19th in his Benetton-Renault, two places behind team mate Giancarlo Fisichella, while Jaguar Racing's Eddie Irvine was unable to discover the potential of his R2 when the machine coasted to a halt with electrical problems on his first out lap from the pits.

The teams have a further hour of practice today (Friday), with two 45-minute sessions on Saturday, before the single hour of timed qualifying.

For Practice Session 1 Results, click here.

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