Hakkinen dominates crash-interrupted warm-up

Spa Francorchamps - round 13 of the F1 World Championship, and unlucky 13 for Giancarlo Fisichella - or lucky 13, depending on how you look at it

Hakkinen dominates crash-interrupted warm-up

The Italian was bidding to improve his eighth fastest time in the wet warm-up session for today's Grand Prix, when his Benetton snapped sideways on the approach to Stavelot, and smashed into the tyre barriers where the new part of the circuit rejoins the old. The Benetton was utterly destroyed as it piled into the tyre barriers, and came to rest upside down on the car's roll hoop. Fortunately the safety cell had done its job admirably, and minutes after the accident, Fisichella was standing by the remains of the B200, conversing with the marshals.

Mika Hakkinen dominated the session, seemingly able to answer any challenge to his supremacy with an effortless return to the top.

The session started wet, prompting much speculation that this would throw the ball back into Michael Schumacher's court. If it was the case, the twice world champion was content to hide his light under a bushel for much of the session while stars of qualifying Hakkinen and Jenson Button made the running.

Saturday's balmy 25 degrees plunged to a less than tepid 14, as mist hung over the Ardennes forest at the start of morning warm-up. In the afternoon temperatures are predicted to increase, but no let-up in the rain is forecast...

Schumacher held third for much of the session, until Fisichella's shunt brought out the red flags while the debris was cleared and the tyre barrier fixed. David Coulthard held a watching brief in fourth while Jean Alesi, always one to relish the equalising powers of the wet, found his Prost a more amenable prospect with water on the track, to run fifth.

As the track re-opened, however, Schumacher showed his true colours to top the times with a 2.04.998, followed by his brother in the Williams. The track appeared to be drying, however, and times began to steadily tumble. Coulthard went top, followed by Herbert, with five minutes remaining, before Mika Hakkinen reasserted himself at the head of the timesheets.

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello appeared much happier on the wet tarmac than he had in qualifying, reminding of the 1994 event where he took pole in a less-than-fancied Jordan Hart. The Brazilian jumped to the top of the times, before being firmly demoted by Hakkinen who, it was beginning to appear, was determined to finish quickest. As the clock ran out, Barrichello was still second but a number of drivers still had laps to complete.

The final order reflected the fact that the track appeared to be drying, with two of the top four places set after the clock had stopped, while Villeneuve managed to crash his BAR in the attempt. Schumacher jumped back up to second, and promptly took a trip across the gravel, while Button, desperate to show that his qualifying performance was no fluke, took third.

Johnny Herbert continued his promising weekend with 7th fastest, while new Toyota signing Mika Salo wound up sixth.

For full warm-up times, click here.


shares
comments
Newboys at the front concern for Hakkinen
Previous article

Newboys at the front concern for Hakkinen

Next article

Button Disappointed with Fifth Place

Button Disappointed with Fifth Place
The potential-laden F1 car that Ferrari neglected Plus

The potential-laden F1 car that Ferrari neglected

The late Mauro Forghieri played a key role in Ferrari’s mid-1960s turnaround, says STUART CODLING, and his pretty, intricate 1512 was among the most evocative cars of the 1.5-litre era. But a victim of priorities as Formula 1 was deemed less lucrative than success in sportscars, its true potential was never seen in period

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss Plus

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss

OPINION: Fred Vasseur has spent only a few weeks as team principal for the Ferrari Formula 1 team, but is already intent on taking the Scuderia back to the very top. And despite it being arguably the most demanding job in motorsport, the Frenchman is relishing the challenge

Formula 1
Jan 27, 2023
The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023 Plus

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Changes to the regulations for season two of Formula 1's ground-effects era aim to smooth out last year’s troubles and shut down loopholes. But what areas have been targeted, and what impact will this have?

Formula 1
Jan 26, 2023
Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history? Plus

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history?

Who are the quickest drivers in Formula 1 history? LUKE SMITH asked a jury of experienced and international panel of experts and F1 insiders. Some of them have worked closely with F1’s fastest-ever drivers – so who better to vote on our all-time top 50? We’re talking all-out speed here rather than size of trophy cabinet, so the results may surprise you…

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2023
One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1 Plus

One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1

OPINION: During what is traditionally a very quiet time of year in the Formula 1 news cycle, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been generating headlines. He’s been commenting on massive topics in a championship that loves them, but also addressing necessary smaller changes too. Here we suggest a further refinement that would be a big boon to fans

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
How can McLaren keep hold of Norris? Plus

How can McLaren keep hold of Norris?

Lando Norris is no longer the young cheeky-chappy at McLaren; he’s now the established ace. And F1's big guns will come calling if the team can’t give him a competitive car. Here's what the team needs to do to retain its prize asset

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make? Plus

What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make?

While a quick pitstop can make all the difference to the outcome of a Formula 1 race, most team managers say consistency is more important than pure speed. MATT KEW analyses the fastest pitstops from last season to see which ones – if any – made a genuine impact

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2023
When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter Plus

When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter

Modern Formula 1 fans have grown accustomed to a lull in racing during winter in the northern hemisphere. But, as MAURICE HAMILTON explains, there was a time when teams headed south of the equator rather than bunkering down in the factory. And why not? There was fun to be had, money to be made and reputations to forge…

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2023