Formula one, 2001 season European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring: Practice and Qualifying the jpoc guide

Friday morning's untimed practice brought few surprises. It was cold so the Michelin runners were at a disadvantage and the McLarens and Ferraris were at the front. More interesting, and reassuring, was that Heinz-Harald Frentzen, getting back into the swing of things in thirteenth place, was apparantly untroubled by his concussion from Monaco.

It was warmer in the afternoon on the first day so the Michelins worked well enough to put the two Williams up into the top six along with the McLarens and Ferraris. Saturday morning saw more of the same but now it was the two brothers at the head of the big six and not the two McLarens as had been the case on Friday. Best of all was the news that Frentzen was comfortably in the top ten and looking set for the race on Sunday.

The second session of the morning saw a Williams one two at the front but while that boded well for their prospects, it was a session in which Schumacher Major didn't bother to turn a wheel. The Jordans, and BARs showed well and went into the qualifying hour hoping to fulfill their promise and stitch up the rest of the top ten positions.

Qualifying hour? Perhaps the reason that qualifying lasts for an hour is just to give the smaller teams some guaranteed television coverage while everyone that matters stays in the pits for the first twenty minutes. By that point, only two drivers, Villeneuve and Marques had set times. The session then became more eventful as Coulthard came out, thundering the McLaren hard over the kerbs at the chicane and set a time over a second clear of Villeneuve to give the other top runners something to aim for.

Moments later, Hakkinen was in second place, five tenths down on his team mate and then the two Williams and both Ferraris came out to see what they could do about the McLarens. Watching those cars over the kerbs, you almost wondered if the drivers had inserted gumshields to prevent injury as the cars hammered over the serrations.

Ralf went fastest, Juan-Pablo split the McLarens and got into third and then found that he was back in fifth place as Schumacher and Barrichello put their Ferraris in second and fourth places. The top six cars were in the top six places and they all had three runs still to make.

The Jordans headed the pursuit and that left the Saubers, Jaguars and BARs fighting over the last of the top ten places.

Mika Hakkinen was drifting down the order by the time that he came out for his second run and he went deep into the kerbs at the chicane and brought his time up to third. This put him just ahead of Coulthard who had improved his time but not his grid position on his second run.

Then it was the turn of Ralf Schumacher who managed to improve his time and a moment later Montoya slotted in behind him in second spot. Michael Schumacher was on the out lap of his second stint when Montoya demoted him to third and his response was decisive setting the fastest time by a quarter of a second.

When the big boys came out for their third runs, Coulthard was the first to improve and he took fourth demoting his team mate who made no improvement on his own third run. When Ralf also made no improvement on his thrid go, this left Michael Schumacher on provisional pole with two goes left while everyone else had just a single run still to come.

An so it was that everyone came out with just a couple of minutes left in the session in an attempt to improve times. Montoya made no improvement then Coulthard spun and Ralf was down on the required time as well. That was enough for Michael Schumacher. He didn't even bother to complete a flying lap. Track conditions had changed and nobody was going to challenge his pole position.

Last to complete a timed lap was Hakkinen and he too was slower than before.

In then end, we had a nicely ordered grid. The Ferraris and Williams filled the top four places and then there were two McLarens, two Jordans and two Saubers in the top ten. Further back, there were no surprises. Everyone was where you would expect and also everyone was with a place of two of their team mate. Except for Jenson Button who of course was a long way behind Fisichella. Business as usual all round.

The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
GP of Europe at the Nurburgring June 24th Setting the scene
GP of Europe at the Nurburgring June 24th Off track developments
GP of Europe at the Nurburgring June 24th The starting grid
GP of Europe at the Nurburgring June 24th Race report
GP of Europe at the Nurburgring June 24th Results
GP of Europe at the Nurburgring June 24th Championship standings after the race
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