Formula one, 2001 season British Grand Prix at Silverstone: Practice and Qualifying the jpoc report

Friday, first practice, the number one Ferrari is fastest. Game over, next. Oh, you want more?

Next up was Rubens and then the two McLarens. The real surprise was that the Williams of Ralf and Juan Pablo were back in 11th and 13th. Showing well was Irvine in 6th and the four Honda powered cars filled out the rest of the top nine. The Minardis were at the back just behind the Benettons so no change there.

For the second session, the top two teams reversed order with Mika and David heading Rubens and Michael. Frentzen was up in fifth and the best Williams was Ralf in eighth. They blamed the cold weather for not suiting their tyres. I guess that there must have been a heatwave on for a minute and a half when de la Rosa put his similarly Michelin shod Jaguar up into seventh.

Eddie the neck was back in thirteenth but that was four places ahead of "cold tyres" Montoya. Alonso got ahead of Fisichella and that was it.

One odd thing was that three drivers, Michael, Jarno and Olivier were all fined two and a half thousand dollars for using wet tyres before the track had been declared wet. Excuse me but what?

Saturday morning's first session saw both Williams make it into the top ten but only just. The most interesting "out of place" car was Frentzen's Jordan which he got round in second fastest time behind the "almost inevitable for a Saturday morning" presence of the lead Ferrari at the top of the time sheets.

None of this meant a lot though as the track was wet and Frentzen simply managed to be out on the track at the right time when there was a bit of a dry line just before that rain resumed. Such reading of the track conditions is one of the Jordan team's greatest strengths. The only really significant fact was the the Bridgestone wets seemed to be a lot better than the Michelins.

The second session was wetter than the first and this time Schumacher and Hakkinen were at the front. The times were slower but it still appeared that the rain favoured the Bridgestones.

Qualifying itself began under a partly cloudy sky but, surprisingly, nobody decided to go out and do an early lap in case there was rain later in the session. Instead, the main hope was that the track would get faster as temperatures rose. Raikkonen, Irvine and Button were the first out after twentyfive minutes and they set times in that order. Raikkonen actually did two flying laps. The second was a second and a quarter faster than the fast but the car was beginning to look very ragged towards then end of the second lap. Button, just looked to be all over the place as he set a time two seconds back on the Finn.

FInally, the big runners came out and Mika Hakkinen immediately went fastest. Seconds later Coulthard was second fastest a tenth back. As Mika had finished his first flying lap, Michael Schumacher was starting his and he stopped the clocks three quarters of a second up on the McLaren.

Barrichello put in a time good enough for fourth and then both Williams came out. Before they could post a time, Heidfeld pushed his team mate Raikkonen down to sixth place and he kept his fifth position when Ralf Schumacher was unable to match the time. The Williams man tried another flying lap before pitting but this was slower than his fisrt effrort.

At this point in the procedings, Jean Alesi was up into 11th which was not bad at all considering that pretty well the whole field had set a time. Indeed, his second flying lap was good enough for a top ten spot! The Jordans were having no such luck with 19th and 20th spots after their first flying laps.

Then it was time for the front runners to come out again. Coulthard was the first of the top three to set a time and he went fastest. His moment of glory was soon eclipsed by his team mate who was the first to get into the 1m20s bracket and Michael Schumacher was unable to beat that.

With less than a quarter of an hour to go, McLaren, Ferrari and Jordan filled the top six places. Behind them were both Saubers and the best Williams was Ralf Schumacher back in tenth place. The Michelin runners were really struggling in the cold conditions.

With ten minutes left, the front runners came out for their third runs. First, Hakkinen improved his time to strengthen his grip on the pole spot. Coulthard then went faster than Michael Schumacher to make it a provisional McLaren front rown and the out came the lead Ferrari. Fastest all the way round the track Schumacher posted the time that was to give him pole spot.

Everyone had another go and there was a mad scramble right at the close but only Mika Hakkinen was able to improve his time but not his position and that was it.

What of the Williams? Montoya finally managed to split the Saubers for eighth and Ralf just got into the top ten. They were the best of the Michelin runners but they clearly had a lot of work to do to adapt to the conditions.

Further back, there were few surprises. Nobody had anything especial to cheer about though the Benettons were undoubtedly disappointed that their recent developments had failed to do them any good.

The battle at the front was too much for the trailing Minardi of Marques who was outside the 107% cut off point and was thus excluded from the events of Sunday. In those circumstances, the stewards are allowed to put things to the other team managers and Marques could have raced if they had all agreed. The Silverstone stewards decided not to put this to the teams though. Perhaps they had received indications that some of them would block the Minardi and decided not to drag it all out in public.

The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
British GP at Silverstone July 15th Off track developments
British GP at Silverstone July 15th Setting the scene
British GP at Silverstone July 15th The starting grid
British GP at Silverstone July 15th Race report
British GP at Silverstone July 15th Results
British GP at Silverstone July 15th Championship standings after the race
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