Saturday Free Practice - Austrian GP

McLaren on top going into qualifying

Saturday Free Practice - Austrian GP

McLaren on top going into qualifying

In the final free practice session before going into the al important qualifying session it was again the two McLaren-Mercedes heading the field, Mika Hakkinen just ahead of his team-mate David Coulthard despite spinning off into a gravel trap 10 minutes before the end of the session which had a brief period of damp track 20 minutes from the end. So far, nobody has broken the 1m 11 secs barrier to equal Hakkinen?s 1999 pole winning time of 1m 10,954s, although last year lower kerbs in some corners allowed cars to take a quicker trajectory.

Ferrari chasing the McLarens

The only other cars to get into the same second as the two McLarens were the two Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, Schumacher fine tuning his car for qualifying after dialing out too much understeer, but he was still almost three tenth?s of a second behind Hakkinen?s quickest lap experimenting with mixed soft and hard tyres after he found the soft ones gave him too much understeer. Barrichello was happy with his car throughout the session.

Villeneuve on target

Fifth place this morning after running in qualifying trim saw Jacques Villeneuve on target for his predicted place in the top six this afternoon. He had a hydraulic problem at the end of the first session, but it was fixed for the second half when he set his time.

Herbert on the pace for Jaguar

Despite a spin early in the session, Johnny Herbert came back to take the sixth fastest time of the session improving the car with every run. ?I tired new and used tyres and there was no big difference in the balance between either,? said Herbert. The second Jaguar was being driven by test driver Luciano Burti replaced Eddie Irvine for the rest of the weekend after the Irishman was flown back to England suffering from appendicitis. Burti only got 18 laps in the car, gear selection problems costing him much of the session, while he was slowest at 2,8 secs of the leader?s time.

Frentzen fastest for Jordan

After running empty tanks for the first time this morning it took Heinz Harald Frentzen a while to balance out the understeer on his car, but by the end of the session it was handling much better and he took 7th fastest time, his team-mate Jarno Trulli back in 12th position after two runs on fresh tyres were each spoiled by traffic and the rain.

In brief...

Giancarlo Fisichella got stuck out on the track for 15 minutes when the fuel pump failed on his Benetton. The Prost team had the latest Evolution 4 engines in their cars today. Both drivers complained of a lack of grip, Alesi taking a trip across a gravel trap and damaging the under-tray of the car. Jenson Button (13th) and Ralf Schumacher (15th) had very different stories, Button a lot happier with his car?s handling now less twitchy at the rear and less understeer, while Ralf was complaining of no grip and understeer while he was also sidelined by an oil leak at the end. Both Minardi drivers went off, Gene knocking of his front wing ends in the gravel trap.

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Saturday practice 2: Hakkinen on the edge

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