Friday First Free Practice - Belgian GP

Coulthard Sets the Pace at Spa

Friday First Free Practice - Belgian GP

Coulthard Sets the Pace at Spa

Last year's Belgian Grand Prix winner David Coulthard started off the first free practice session the way he intended to carry on this year's race with the fastest time of the morning, almost a full second quicker than the nearest Ferrari in second place. Despite the uncharacteristic warm weather and blue skies, the dusty track surface saw Coulthard's best lap still three seconds away from last year's pole, the Scot running just six laps this morning. It was a trouble free morning for the McLaren team, Mika Hakkinen setting the third fastest time, 1,2 seconds slower than his team-mate after just 4 laps, both drivers running only the last few laps of the session waiting for better track conditions.

Schumacher Second for Ferrari

Michael Schumacher ran just five laps this morning setting the second fastest time, the Ferrari team running a development engine this weekend which they tested last week while he also tested the revised aerodynamics fitted for this circuit. Rubens Barrichello made two run of four laps each, the Brazilian trying a back-to-back test with different rear wings and setting the fifth fastest time.

Mixed Fortunes for Jordan

Jarno Trulli showed that the Jordan team should be strong contenders here after setting the fourth fastest time during his 10-lap stint. However, Heinz Harald Frentzen got very little out of this first session when he ran four slow laps trying to cure an hydraulic sensor problem, the team also taking a look at the car's differential at the end of the session.

BAR Work on Ride Heights

Both Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta worked on setting up the ride height of their cars this morning in order to prevent bottoming at the notorious Eau Rouge corner where they both had huge accidents during qualifying last year. Villeneuve, who took the sixth fastest time, complained of a brake problem, which saw him have a spin at the Bus Stop Chicane. Zonta was back in 17th place complaining of a lack of mechanical grip.

In Brief...

Both Benetton's were in seventh and eighth position this morning. Wurz running 14 laps and Fisichella 8, both complaining of the slippery track surface. The Jaguar drivers were happy with their straight-line speed, but planning to add more wing for the afternoon session after losing too much time on the second section of the track due to a lack of grip.

Jean Alesi did not post a time with his Prost. It came to a stop half way around its first lap with a lack of fuel pressure. Pedro de la Rosa (15th) managed only six laps before his Arrows stopped on the circuit with electrical problems. He was still quicker than Verstappen however, who ran 12 lap and end up 18th. Williams worked on their car's basic set-up after both drivers complained they were bottoming badly.

Pos Driver Team Times 1. Coulthard McLaren Mercedes 1:53.398 221.210 km/h 2. M.Schumacher Ferrari 1:54.226 + 0.828 3. Hakkinen McLaren Mercedes 1:54.665 + 1.267 4. Trulli Jordan Mugen-Honda 1:54.666 + 1.268 5. Barrichello Ferrari 1:54.714 + 1.316 6. Villeneuve BAR Honda 1:54.840 + 1.442 7. Wurz Benetton Playlife 1:54.943 + 1.545 8. Fisichella Benetton Playlife 1:55.155 + 1.757 9. R.Schumacher Williams BMW 1:55.209 + 1.811 10. Button Williams BMW 1:55.270 + 1.872 11. Herbert Jaguar Cosworth 1:55.347 + 1.949 12. Irvine Jaguar Cosworth 1:55.645 + 2.247 13. Salo Sauber Petronas 1:56.301 + 2.903 14. Diniz Sauber Petronas 1:56.607 + 3.209 15. de la Rosa Arrows Supertec 1:56.795 + 3.397 16. Heidfeld Prost Peugeot 1:56.857 + 3.459 17. Zonta BAR Honda 1:56.998 + 3.600 18. Verstappen Arrows Supertec 1:57.174 + 3.776 19. Gene Minardi Fondmetal 1:57.293 + 3.895 20. Mazzacane Minardi Fondmetal 1:58.663 + 5.265 21. Frentzen Jordan Mugen-Honda 2:09.768 + 16.370

All timing unofficial

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