Free practice 2: Mika states his case

Mika Hakkinen knows he must start winning if he's to keep his feint hopes of a third world title alive, and McLaren's Finnish ace proved he's up for the challenge by topping the second of Friday's free practice sessions for the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring

Free practice 2: Mika states his case

As the notoriously fickle Eifel weather behaved itself for a change, Hakkinen pipped McLaren team mate David Coulthard to the fastest time of the day by a tenth of a second. His 1m16.408s lap was over a second under the Scot's pole time from last year.

Hakkinen has gone on record as saying he won't help Coulthard until his own title hopes are dead, so DC knows he'll have to beat him fair and square this weekend to boost his own world championship bid.

After a disappointing opening session, the Williams-BMW team got its act together in session two as the weather warmed up to a sweltering 15-degrees. Canadian Grand Prix winner Ralf Schumacher was the best of the rest behind the McLaren-Mercedes steamroller, and top Michelin runner in the process, but languished 0.947s off the pacesetting Finn.

Reigning world champion Michael Schumacher was forced to settle for fourth, over a second slower than the McLarens. The German went off at the Castrol-S after only four minutes of the session, but recovered to set 1m17.507s, a tenth quicker than his team mate Rubens Barrichello. Schumacher then had a run-in with Jaguar's Pedro de la Rosa, which prompted the German to slow suddenly and wave in annoyance at the Spaniard - venting his frustration at being unable to challenge the McLarens, perhaps?

Barrichello, meanwhile, also skirted with the Castrol-S gravel trap on a number of occasions, and also hit a technical problem part way through the session which forced him to complete a lap at a snail's pace. After a visit to the pits he returned to set the fifth fastest time.

A spectacular effort from Juan Pablo Montoya put his Williams-BMW ahead of Jordan's Jarno Trulli, the latter also getting on the grass in his attempts to improve his time.

Trulli's team mate, Heinz Harald Frentzen, continues to be in the wars. The German was using today's sessions to make sure he has no after effects from his Monaco and Canada crashes, but he spun into the gravel at the Coca-Cola curve after just eight minutes of the session. He says he feels fine, however, and has pledged to be on the grid on Sunday.

Nick Heidfeld put in a late lap to nab the eighth quickest time in his Sauber from the impressive Prost of Jean Alesi. Olivier Panis was tenth, despite a spin, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Sauber and Panis's British American Racing team mate Jacques Villeneuve, who also spun into the gravel.

Eddie Irvine, who missed the first session due to an electrical problem that starved his Jaguar of fuel pressure, spun on his first flying lap of the day at the Castrol-S. He set the 18th quickest time before another spin, this time at the high-speed Turn Seven.

Others in trouble included Prost's Luciano Burti, whose Acer engine ground to a smoky halt after 10 minutes, while Tarso Marques made it out after some last-minute soldering on his car's electrics to bring up the rear of the times, a second off his team mate Fernando Alonso.

Benetton enjoyed a slight upturn in form, as Giancarlo Fisichella outpaced Irvine and both Arrows-Asiatechs in 14th. Jenson Button, meanwhile, had to make do with being ahead of just the gravel-bound Frentzen, the spectating Burti and both Minardis in 18th.

For combined Friday free practice times, click here.

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Friday Second Free Practice - European GP

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