Saturday practice 2: Hakkinen on the edge

McLaren's Mika Hakkinen was once again fastest in the second Saturday morning practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, but team-mate David Coulthard ran him very close indeed - too close for comfort, as it would transpire

Saturday practice 2: Hakkinen on the edge

The Finn was quickest by a whisker going into the last lap of the session, but the pressure told when he put one wheel onto the grass coming out of the Jochen Rindt kurve, the tricky uphill right hander leading into the last turn. The car snapped and Hakkinen was unable to control the spin, and he ended the session beached in the gravel within sight of the finish straight.

The reason for his haste would appear to be none other than team-mate David Coulthard, who ended the session 0.008s behind the Finn. Michael Schumacher made it abundantly clear that he will not let the McLaren pair have the battle for pole all to themselves, by placing himself third, less than 0.2 behind Coulthard. Rubens Barrichello, who always seems to go well in Austria, was another 0.1s behind his team-mate.

The session was largely dry, in contrast to the first 45-minutes, but with a quarter of an hour remaining in the session, rain began to fall heavily - a development which meant the luckless Luciano Burti might have only half and hour to learn the circuit in his Jaguar R1 before qualifying. Fortunately, the rain stopped after a few minutes, and the track was dry with enough time for the front-runners - and Burti - to try to go faster.

Burti had virtually no time to familiarise himself with the track, on which, in a little over a day, he will be racing, but did a fine job. He consistently sliced time off his previous best, and ended the session within spitting distance of the field. He set a lap of 1m14.149s, less than 0.4 shy of Marc Gene's Minardi and a little less than three seconds off pole.

Meanwhile, it was a better day for the Jaguar squad all round, considering the untimely news of Eddie Irvine's withdrawal. Johnny Herbert took the opportunity to annexe the Ulsterman's frequent promising practice performance, and brought his R1 to 6th fastest time.

Real surprise of the session - though less so given BAR's recent resurgence, was Jacques Villeneuve. The Canadian staked his claim to a possible podium place with fifth fastest time, within half a second of the Ferraris.

Going into qualifying though, it will be no surprise to see an all-silver front row - Schumacher and Barrichello will be close but it might take a wet qualifying to swing the tide back in Ferrari's direction.

For full results, click here.

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Saturday practice 1: Hakkinen dominates

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