Saturday free practice review 19 Jul 2003
Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya laid down the gauntlet to Michael Schumacher and Ferrari in the second session of practice this morning, setting the overall fastest time of 1m 21.415s.
McLaren had taken the upper hand in the first session, courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen who put Friday's disappointment behind him to push Rubens Barrichello off the top slot with a lap of 1m 22.263s, compared to the Brazilian's 1m 22.397s. With Michael Schumacher third on 1m 22.659s, Ferrari was still in strong form, comfortably ahead of Montoya's fourth-placed Williams on 1m 23.141s.
It was a largely uneventful session run under sunny skies, but Antonio Pizzonia momentarily put his Jaguar off the road at Priory, and Jacques Villeneuve, sixth best for BAR, spun on his own oil at Copse when his engine broke.
The session ended thus: Raikkonen 1m 22.263s, Barrichello 1m 22.397s, M Schumacher 1m 22.659s, Montoya 1m 23.141s, Alonso 1m 23.316s, Villeneuve 1m 23.591s, R Schumacher 1m 23.596s, Trulli 1m 23.609s, Coulthard 1m 23.888s, Webber 1m 23.902s, Button 1m 23.925s, Heidfeld 1m 23.939s, Panis 1m 24.484s, da Matta 1m 24.532s, Frentzen 1m 24. 573s, Pizzonia 1m 24.942s, Firman 1m 25.044s, Fisichella 1m 25.114s, Wilson 1m 25.808s, Verstappen 1m 26.262s.
Practice resumed for a fresh session half an hour later. In sunny but cloudy conditions, Montoya dialled out some front tyre graining that created understeer on his Williams, and a nervous rear end, and was happy with the car in the final half hour. "By the end it was very good," the Colombian said.
Ferrari still looks strong, with Barrichello and Schumacher second and third, right in the Williams' wheel tracks. The former said he expected to be among the front-runners this afternoon, while the latter had one off, but was otherwise happy and his car needed only a clean-up.
"We did a lot of tyre comparison," said Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn. "The two choices of tyre have very similar performance and it is very difficult to make a choice. We have to go through the data very carefully."
Ralf Schumacher was fourth in the second Williams, once he had dialled out understeer and very nervous turn-in promoted by his car's initial set-up, while once again Toyota's Olivier Panis was fifth quickest, and the Frenchman is very buoyant. "Michelin's tyres are really good and the car likes this track," he said. "I think we can repeat this in qualifying."
Raikkonen focused on race preparation after the first session, but his time remained fast enough for sixth overall, while Coulthard's quick effort was thwarted by Villeneuve's engine failure and he too had to focus on race work in the second session.
The Renaults went faster but lost positions after reverting to older specification engines in the interest of reliability. Trulli was eighth and Alonso ninth, but both were relatively satisfied and are confident of top six qualifying positions. Cristiano da Matta remained 10th, losing all the time to Toyota team mate Panis in the first sector.
At Jaguar Mark Webber said the team was "not in great shape," and that tyre preservation would be critical. He was 11th, Pizzonia 15th. At BAR Villeneuve improved his morning time after a fresh engine had been fitted, and was happier than team mate Jenson Button, who found his car more affected by a change in wind direction and strength because he was running a different set-up.
Sauber achieved 14th and 17th positions courtesy of Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Nick Heidfeld, both concentrating on race set-up and tyre preservation. Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralph Firman were 16th and 18th for Jordan, where engineer Gary Anderson said: "We had no dramas, but basically we have the same car we started the season with. The guys were struggling and I feel sorry for them, it's frustrating for them too."
Once again Jos Verstappen shaded Justin Wilson at Minardi, whose initial low downforce effort on new tyres saw both cars sliding all over the road in the Becketts complex.
As the session ended the sky began to cloud over. It remains to be seen whether qualifying will be dry, which could be critical for the grid formation and the race.
NOTE: The above report uses cumulative times (see timesheet below) from Saturday's two practice sessions in order to determine a definitive order.
Cumulative times from Saturday's two practice sessions:
1. Juan Pablo Montoya - 1.21.415
2. Rubens Barrichello - 1.21.587
3. Michael Schumacher - 1.21.608
4. Ralf Schumacher - 1.21.711
5. Olivier Panis - 1.22.257
6. Kimi Raikkonen - 1.22.263
7. David Coulthard - 1.22.317
8. Jarno Trulli - 1.22.332
9. Fernando Alonso - 1.22.462
10. Cristiano da Matta - 1.22.614
11. Mark Webber - 1.22.910
12. Jacques Villeneuve - 1.23.326
13. Jenson Button - 1.23.455
14. Heinz-Harald Frentzen - 1.23.620
15. Antonio Pizzonia - 1.23.703
16. Giancarlo Fisichella - 1.23.944
17. Nick Heidfeld - 1.23.945
18. Ralph Firman - 1.23.981
19. Jos Verstappen - 1.25.684
20. Justin Wilson - 1.25.808
For Saturday practice 1 results click here
For Saturday practice 2 results click here