Friday qualifying review 13 Jun 2003
Ferrari drivers Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher made dramatic use of Bridgestone's full-wet tyre to dominate today's rain-sodden first qualifying session for the Canadian Grand prix.
After world championship leader Kimi Raikkonen had lapped his McLaren in 1m 35.373s to set the initial fastest time, Schumacher decimated that with 1m 31.969s as an indication of the Japanese tyre manufacturer's superiority in the tricky conditions.
After Fernando Alonso slithered his Michelin-shod Renault to 1m 35.173s, Rubens Barrichello then produced a superb performance, which beat Schumacher by just under a second to confirm Bridgestone's form.
Later in the session Nick Heidfeld took advantage of a slight improvement as the rain eased, to put his Bridgestone-shod Sauber third with 1m 32.778s. Team mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen had earlier set fifth fastest time of 1m 35.776s, which remained good enough for seventh overall. Ralph Firman showed well too in his Jordan to take a smooth fourth best time in 1m 34.759s.
For the others it was a nerve-wracking afternoon. Juan Pablo Montoya, fifth in the running order when the track was at its worst, ended up only 12th after sliding over the chicane. David Coulthard did the same in his McLaren, albeit to a lesser extent, on his way to 1m 36.463s, which was only good enough for eighth, two places down on Raikkonen.
Ralf Schumacher was only 15th, and Jarno Trulli 19th after lots of understeer affected his efforts.
Mark Webber again showed strongly to take ninth place for Jaguar, with Olivier Panis making best use of a well-balanced Toyota for 10th best time of 1m 37.313s.
Other notable performances came from the Minardi duo. Jos Verstappen placed his PS03 an excellent 11th, running when the track was at its best, while Justin Wilson matched his team-mate's first and second sector times to the tenth before running slightly wide at the hairpin and ending up 13th.
With more rain forecast for tomorrow's qualifying session, but the possibility of a dry race, teams may find themselves in a quandary when selecting a dry tyre for the Canadian Grand Prix. "You could be conservative," grinned Sauber's technical director Willy Rampf. "But then again, if you are high up the grid, maybe you would decide to gamble on tyre choice."