Friday First Free Practice - German GP

Schumacher quickest at home

Friday First Free Practice - German GP

Schumacher quickest at home

Michael Schumacher set the pace in the opening practice session for his home German GP this morning, the local hero setting a best time that was only half a second outside Mika Hakkinen's 1999 pole-wining time despite damp patches and the green track conditions. Rubens Barrichello underlined what looks like being a competitive circuit for the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team who are running revised aerodynamics since the last race, both drivers happy with their initial running at this circuit with the new set-up, Schumacher making some changes to find the best set-up compromise between the high speed sections and the slower infield corners.

Hakkinen confident

Mika Hakkinen and Davis Coulthard were quite confident after their first session with the McLaren-Mercedes here, which saw Hakkinen second quickest and Coulthard fourth. They were running full tanks and working on brake tests, the team due to run a revised braking system before qualifying. "With the car over half the lap on full throttle it is vital to have good brakes," pointed out Ron Dennis. The cars were also running new aerodynamic bits for this high-speed circuit.

Improvement for Jordan

Both Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jarno Trulli were happy with the revised aerodynamics on the Jordan, which Trulli ran in Silverstone since the last race and found a significant improvement. Frentzen ran just 10 laps this morning and was happy with fifth place despite a heavy fuel load. Trulli was unable to complete a lap after his car suffered an electrical failure on the first lap.

Zonta and Villeneuve well up for BAR

Ricardo Zonta and Jacques Villeneuve set the sixth and seventh fastest times for BAR in the first session, Villeneuve complaining about a heavy steering on his car which was improved after a long stop to change the system and the front ride height of the car. Zonta was complaining of too much oversteer, but did not make too many changes to the mechanical set-up of the car as he did not want to lose track time because of the approaching rain.

In brief...

Benetton also ran revised aerodynamics for this race as well as revised front suspension geometry. Fisichella was quite happy with the balance, but complained of an overall lack of grip. Alex Wurz was less happy complaining of a general nervousness of the car. The Benetton engines are also running a small improvement for this race. Both Sauber drivers complained of bad handling with too much oversteer, especially on the bumps.

Williams' Ralf Schumacher was again not very happy with his car despite setting 10th fastest time. Jenson Button was 12th quickest, but ended the session walking back to the pits after he spun off and knocked his car's nose off against the barrier when he turned into the pit lane.

Johnny Herbert was using a special development engine in his Jaguar-Ford. Herbert got a standard one, but was 11th fastest, Irvine 14th. The team has three development engines for the weekend, which they hope to race. Both Prost drivers were also complaining about handling over the bumps while Mazzacane handling problems with his Minardi turned out to be a broken shock absorber.

Pos Driver Team Times 1. M.Schumacher Ferrari 1:43.532 237.318 km/h 2. Hakkinen McLaren Mercedes 1:44.120 + 0.588 3. Barrichello Ferrari 1:44.128 + 0.596 4. Coulthard McLaren Mercedes 1:44.379 + 0.847 5. Frentzen Jordan Mugen-Honda 1:44.587 + 1.055 6. Zonta BAR Honda 1:44.906 + 1.374 7. Fisichella Benetton Playlife 1:45.048 + 1.516 8. Salo Sauber Petronas 1:45.336 + 1.804 9. R.Schumacher Williams BMW 1:45.542 + 2.010 10. Herbert Jaguar Cosworth 1:45.664 + 2.132 11. Button Williams BMW 1:45.791 + 2.259 12. Heidfeld Prost Peugeot 1:45.797 + 2.265 13. Irvine Jaguar Cosworth 1:45.901 + 2.369 14. de la Rosa Arrows Supertec 1:46.039 + 2.507 15. Diniz Sauber Petronas 1:46.173 + 2.641 16. Alesi Prost Peugeot 1:46.449 + 2.917 17. Wurz Benetton Playlife 1:46.573 + 3.041 18. Gene Minardi Fondmetal 1:46.995 + 3.463 19. Verstappen Arrows Supertec 1:47.000 + 3.468 20. Mazzacane Minardi Fondmetal 1:48.062 + 4.530 21. Villeneuve BAR Honda 1:48.500 + 4.968 22. Trulli Jordan Mugen-Honda 15:03.406 + 13:19.874 All Timing Unofficial

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