Free practice 2: Hakkinen leads the way

McLaren's Mika Hakkinen moved the benchmark to within 0.378s of last year's pole position when he topped the timesheets in the second of Thursday's pair of untimed sessions

Free practice 2: Hakkinen leads the way

The Finn, who so far has just four world championship points to his name after six Grands Prix, is gunning for victories to put his rapidly-fading title hopes back on track and is many peoples' favourite for a win in the Principality on Sunday.

Hakkinen stopped the clocks at 1m19.853s, 0.463s faster than the Ferrari of world championship points-leader Michael Schumacher.

Ralf Schumacher's Williams-BMW, Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari, the Jordan-Honda of Jarno Trulli and David Coulthard's McLaren completed the top six in a session marked by shunts, close shaves and the sprouting of yet more bizarre aerodynamic protrusions.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen's Jordan was seventh, just ahead of an impressive Jean Alesi in his Prost-Acer, Jacques Villeneuve's BAR-Honda and the second Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya.

Monaco expert Giancarlo Fisichella gave Benetton-Renault some cause for hope with 11th fastest time, but his team mate Jenson Button could manage only 17th.

Both Williams cars crashed, with Montoya wiping off his front and rear ends at Rascasse to bring out the reds and Schumacher following that up with a front left corner demolition job in the swimming pool section.

Two marshals picking up the detached wing of Schumacher's stricken car were extremely fortunate not to be hit by Enrique Bernoldi's Arrows.

Speaking of close shaves, Michael Schumacher came within an ace of collecting Eddie Irvine's Jaguar when the Ulsterman spun in the chicane on the exit of the tunnel.

Tarso Marques continued his Rascasse capers, spinning again in the corner, but this time merely kissing the barriers in his freshly-repaired Minardi.

Arrows driver Jos Verstappen again ran a handful of laps with a high-mounted wing on the A22's nosecone, and again attracted the attentions of FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer, who photographed the ungainly-looking device for a more leisurely perusal.

Jordan also looked at an intriguing way of increasing downforce on the twisty street circuit, with Trulli running with a centre post-mounted aerofoil attached to the front of his cockpit opening, plus engine cover-mounted ears.

BAR-Honda also ran with an extra, forward-mounted rear wing section on Villeneuve's ninth-placed car.

The teams now have Friday to regroup, before two 45-minute free practice sessions on Saturday morning and the single-hour of qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

For combined Thursday free practice results, click here.

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Thursday Second Free Practice - Monaco GP

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