Friday First Free Practice - Malaysian GP

Ferrari back on the pace in Malaysia

Friday First Free Practice - Malaysian GP

Ferrari back on the pace in Malaysia

After dominating last year's inaugural Malaysian GP, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team look set to repeat that domination this year as Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello took the quickest times in the first free practice session, Michael having a brief trip over the grass on one lap. "The track is still very dirty and the set up is not as good as I would like it, but we have started off well," said Michael who was 0.7 seconds faster than Barrichello and 1.3 seconds ahead of the leading McLaren. Although Schumacher has won the drivers' championship already, the team is now keyed up to win the constructors, title in this final race of the season.

McLaren still their closest rivals

Despite the fact that David Coulthard spent much of the session in the pits with a clutch problem, he came out right at the end for a few laps and took the third fastest time of the session for McLaren-Mercedes. Mika Hakkinen did almost three times the number of laps of his teammate, the Finn having a trouble free session taking fourth fastest as he worked on set up on a single set of tyres like the Ferrari drivers.

Irvine well up for Jaguar

Other than problems with the slower corners, Eddie Irvine was pretty pleased with his Jaguar this morning taking the fifth fastest time of the morning after making several set-up changes throughout the session to match the changing track conditions. Johnny Herbert was less happy with his car complaining of no traction or grip on the slippery track, but still eighth fastest overall.

Villeneuve sixth quickest for BAR

Jacques Villeneuve made good use of his car control in the slippery conditions to take the sixth fastest time for his BAR team, the Canadian improving the set-up as he went along. Ricardo Zonta went backwards with his set-up ending up ninth but not happy with the handling of his car after changes.

In brief...

Mazzacane lost time with a gearbox failure after just 8 laps while Gene managed 14th, both cars using a hydraulic differential. Alesi was back in 21st spot for Prost complaining of oversteers and understeer in the same corner because of a lack of grip, similar problems experienced by Heidfeld who took 17th place. Ralf Schumacher couldn't better 14th place for Williams because of a strange chassis vibration while Button was better in 11th spot despite learning the track for the first time. Both Sauber drivers were working hard on the set-up, especially the cooling considerations in the hot and sticky Malaysian weather.

Pos Driver Team Times 1. M.Schumacher Ferrari 1:40.290 198.971 km/h 2. Barrichello Ferrari 1:41.035 + 0.745 3. Coulthard McLaren Mercedes 1:41.608 + 1.318 4. Hakkinen McLaren Mercedes 1:41.656 + 1.366 5. Irvine Jaguar Cosworth 1:42.571 + 2.281 6. Villeneuve BAR Honda 1:42.649 + 2.359 7. Fisichella Benetton Playlife 1:42.650 + 2.360 8. Herbert Jaguar Cosworth 1:42.944 + 2.654 9. Zonta BAR Honda 1:42.967 + 2.677 10. Wurz Benetton Playlife 1:42.969 + 2.679 11. Button Williams BMW 1:43.086 + 2.796 12. Trulli Jordan Mugen-Honda 1:43.418 + 3.128 13. Salo Sauber Petronas 1:43.418 + 3.128 14. R.Schumacher Williams BMW 1:43.431 + 3.141 15. Frentzen Jordan Mugen-Honda 1:43.484 + 3.194 16. de la Rosa Arrows Supertec 1:43.893 + 3.603 17. Heidfeld Prost Peugeot 1:43.926 + 3.636 18. Verstappen Arrows Supertec 1:44.066 + 3.776 19. Diniz Sauber Petronas 1:44.956 + 4.666 20. Gene Minardi Fondmetal 1:45.355 + 5.065 21. Alesi Prost Peugeot 1:45.616 + 5.326 22. Mazzacane Minardi Fondmetal 1:46.222 + 5.932 All timing unofficial

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