Friday free practice review 27 Jun 2003
Olivier Panis set the fastest time of Friday practice quite early on in today's session - and then held on to it as Toyota's rivals tried but failed to dislodge him.
The French veteran recorded 1m 31.197s, and the closest anyone else got to that was Mark Webber's late run of 1m 31.224s for Jaguar. Kimi Raikkonen was next up, with 1m 31.260s for McLaren.
The Renaults of Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso were fourth and fifth (1m 31.513s and 1m 31.750s respectively) ahead of Antonio Pizzonia's Jaguar on 1m 31.794s, David Coulthard's McLaren on 1m 31.918s, Ralf Schumacher's Williams on 1m 32.170s and Cristiano da Matta's Toyota on 1m 32.492s. Michelin took the top nine places.
Bridgestone's first runner was Michael Schumacher, 10th quickest in 1m 32.560s. Right behind him was Juan Pablo Montoya on 1m 32.590s. Rubens Barrichello, Giancarlo Fisichella, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Jenson Button and Nick Heidfeld were separated from Schumacher by only four-tenths of a second, with Jacques Villeneuve, Ralph Firman, Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson completing the order.
It would be wrong at this stage to predict dominance by the French tyre maker, however. Many teams prefer to work on their race set-up on Friday morning, and by running in race trim will not yet have shown their hands.
Though several drivers missed the chicane, this was a relatively undramatic session. Webber and Da Matta both spun without hitting anything (the Jaguar driver twice, in the first corner, the Brazilian once in the second), but there was a brief red flag period when Heidfeld walloped one of the plastic chicane boundary markers, ripped off his Sauber's front wing and ran over it.
Towards the end of the hour Barrichello also dislodged his Ferrari's front wing, but made it back to the pits without it detaching itself.
So far the weather has continued to be sunny and warm, and as yet there have been no signs of the predicted scattered rain showers.