Schumacher sets the pace, Webber's in the hot seat
The opening day in Monaco threw up another Ferrari-BAR battle, with world champion Michael Schumacher leading the way from the Honda-powered teams third man, Anthony Davidson.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st, 1m 14.741s):
"It was an entertaining and interesting session as we have come to expect in Monaco. We worked well throughout the day, improving the car all the time as can be seen from the fact I was quickest at the end of both sessions. I think qualifying here will be very close so, although this is a positive sign, I don't think today means so much and we will only see the real picture on Saturday. I like the new pits as they are a big step forward in terms of safety, for the drivers and everyone working there."
Anthony Davidson, BAR (2nd, 1m 15.141s):
"I've had a really positive debut here today and I'm very pleased with our performance. It's a fairly tough circuit generally - and quite daunting for the first few laps - but I was really looking forward to getting out there. It's one of those circuits that really moves you as a driver and perhaps more than any other circuit I would really love to be driving here for the rest of the weekend. I'll settle for the fact that I've done a race distance here today to help prepare for what I'm sure will be a great race for Jenson and Taku."
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (3rd, 1m 15.319s):
"I had a big problem with the set-up this morning, but now we have made a very good improvement. As usual we concentrated more on the race than on qualifying. I have a bit of a cold, so I was not so comfortable in the car as it was hot and my breathing was difficult. The team did a superb job to improve the car and I am looking forward to Saturday."
Jarno Trulli, Renault (4th, 1m 15.472s):
"I had a normal Friday, working to set up the car and complete our programme. We accomplished a lot, and improved the handling, although there is still work to do in this area. We know the car is quick here, and now have to find a set-up we are completely happy with. I am glad to have come through the day without any problems, and feel optimistic for the rest of the weekend."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (5th, 1m 15.479s):
"A good practice session where we went through most of our planned programme. Like David I had a problem with the power steering which caused some interruption to the second session. The circuit has been resurfaced, so it's not as bumpy as it used to be. The car seems to suit the tight circuit design here in Monaco, so hopefully we can fight for good positions if everything keeps going well."
Jenson Button, BAR (6th, 1m 15.520s):
"I think we should feel very happy with what we have achieved today and we're certainly looking good for a strong weekend. We have run three cars with mo major problems and achieved everything we needed to, particularly with Anthony who has done a great job today. We still have a lot of work to do to go through all the data we have acquired from all three cars. As we all know, qualifying well is crucial here and we have to ensure that tomorrow morning's sessions give us the maximum preparation for that. Generally though I think it will be a very interesting weekend."
Takuma Sato, BAR (7th, 1m 15.664s):
"I'm very pleased from a personal point of view and the team has made a good start to the weekend. All three cars were the top performers in my opinion and we all made good progress towards the race. So I am very happy with our performance today and
I enjoy driving here in Monaco. It is a very encouraging start and obviously we now need to concentrate on the performance and tyres for tomorrow because qualifying is so important here."
Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (8th, 1m 15.690s):
"It has been quite difficult to choose the right tyre compound for this track based on this morning's sessions. However, we did an extensive tyre comparison and at the end of the session we found a good solution for us. The course does not forgive any driving mistakes, so I am happy that we were able to finish the day without incident. In the process, we have collected a good amount of data.
Overall, it was not an easy start to the weekend, but satisfying nevertheless."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (9th, 1m 15.701s):
"Our priority today was choosing the tyres, and we did this without any problems. The car balance is OK at the moment - we don't have any big problems, just some areas to carry on tuning. I am happy with our speed at the moment, and am looking forward to Saturday."
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (10th, 1m 16.097s):
I exploited as much as I could today's free practice sessions, evaluating tyres and also trying different aero parts. We need to work more on the set-up, because it's not ideal yet but above all I believe we are still not quick enough. The new pits are a great improvement even if they have a very unusual configuration, and they provide a more suitable and safer working environment for all the teams.
David Coulthard, McLaren (11th, 1m 16.229s):
"I always look forward to driving around the Monaco circuit. As we had to do some repairs to our power steering system, we couldn't do as many laps as we would have liked in the second session. Otherwise it looks like our pace is reasonable. It's brilliant to be able to attack the corners. And as this is a real drivers' circuit I enjoy it so much more than many others."
Ralf Schumacher, Williams (12th, 1m 16.556s):
The engine problem I had at the beginning of today's first session undermined all my plans for this weekend, of course. Adding to the penalty that I will have to start ten places further back on the grid, I have also lost a lot of valuable time for setting up the car. This means we have a lot of work ahead of us for Saturday's practice. This is not an ideal situation, but I'll make the best of it.
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (13th, 1m 16.743s):
"I think we can be quite content by what we have seen from today's practice sessions. The car balance is reasonable and our areas of weakness are pretty much the same that we have faced at other tracks this year. The car is bouncing a little bit too much over the bumps and we also have a lack of overall grip. We completed a good number of laps and been able to conduct a productive tyre evaluation. For me, the tyre choice for the weekend is clear."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (14th, 1m 16.748s):
"Things could be good, but our problem today was the rear tyres graining quite badly. Ironically, in view of what our experience has been so far this year, the tyres were good on the first lap, but grained after that."
Olivier Panis, Toyota (15th, 1m 17.007s):
"We have had a trouble-free and solid first day with a lot of hard work from the team. It is not easy to carry out a series of consistent laps in Monaco free practice because the tight nature of the track means that you often come across traffic, especially with 24 cars participating in the Friday session. I experienced this again today when doing my new tyre runs, but the results from all three cars were generally positive. We will use tomorrow's free day to look more closely into the areas we need to improve when we resume on Saturday morning."
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (16th, 1m 17.309s):
Im quite happy today. We did quite good work but there is more to gain with the car and also from me.
By Saturday I am sure we can improve the car, the lap time, and also my performance. We will try, as always, to do our maximum and continue to close the gap to the front teams. It would be good if we can find a way to score some points in this race.
Felipe Massa, Sauber (17th, 1m 17.422s):
"We worked hard today on gathering data to make the right tyre choice. On a long run the balance of the car was not too bad. I had some graining on the rears, but you expect that here when the track is still green, and I'm sure the track will be better on Saturday. Unfortunately on my quick lap I made a mistake at Ste Devote and locked the front wheels, so I lost some time there."
Timo Glock, Jordan (18th, 1m 17.756s):
Free practice was not too bad and its good that I concentrated on keeping the car on the track. It was a little bit difficult as the circuit is new to me and its a special track. After the first 10 or 15 laps I found a good rhythm for doing a long run but after that I was a little bit late on the brakes coming into the first corner and drove into the escape road. I did what I usually would to spin the car back but the engine stalled and that was the end of the first session for me - I lost about 20 minutes. The second session was positive and we found a good set-up for long runs. It was not a bad day at all and Im satisfied with my first experience of Monaco.
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (19th, 1m 17.873s):
I suffered a bit with brakes throughout the day but otherwise we had no technical problems. We are not quite there yet with the balance of the car, its not bad here but Im sure we can improve it. My lap times reflect my slightly different programme to the other two drivers and I was reasonably satisfied with how today went.
Christian Klien, Jaguar (20th, 1m 17.988s):
This was a completely new track for me today and I am pleased with how it is going. I had a good morning session and I was getting quicker as I spent more time out there. The street circuit is very different to the other tracks but I like this challenge. As I started to work on tyre comparisons this afternoon an engine electrical box failed and it in turn affected my hydraulics. This caused me to hit the barriers at corner three which was not ideal but looking at the car I am fortunate that there was not more damaged caused considering the lack of run-offs. The team are now looking at the car to assess the damage but I know that the team are in a good position to ensure that my R5 is back up and running for Saturday qualifying.
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (21st, 1m 18.822s):
"It was generally a good day for us and we improved steadily, which is what I wanted to do, as this is my first time here in a race car. It's a funny circuit, with the speed you do through the tunnel and the closeness of the walls and the barriers. I'm very happy with the work the mechanics and the engineers did today. I wasn't able to get a clear lap on my last run, which should have been my fastest, so I wasn't quite able to realise the full potential of the car, but we still did some solid work, which we can build on tomorrow."
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (22nd, 1m 18.829s):
"I was pleased to get into a good rhythm pretty much straightaway. I have driven here in F3000, but this place is very different in an F1 car - the speed is just so much higher and the track is very narrow. I made a small mistake in the first session and touched the barrier with the right rear wheel of the car. Fortunately, there wasn't too much damage, and although we lost some time in the garage while repairs were made, by the end of the second session we had made up the time and finished everything we had planned. I didn't set the best time I could have today because it's difficult to get a clear lap around here with all the traffic, but that's just the way Monaco is."
Bas Leinders, Minardi (23rd, 1m 20.370s):
"Monaco is always a tricky place because the guardrail is very close, but happily, we had another day without any major problems testing a few things the team wanted to have a look at this weekend. We tried something a little different in the set-up this afternoon, and, as the time indicates, it didn't work here at Monaco. The data we gathered, however, will be of use later in the season. Special thanks should go to the guys for all their efforts today. The improvements that have been made here in the Monaco circuit are excellent, but it's still a difficult place to work."
Bjorn Wirdheim, Jaguar (24th, no time):
I could have done with some more running time out there but I managed to complete at least some of my programme before there was a wheel speed related problem that caused me to stop this morning. We got the car back out this morning and then this afternoon after running wide at corner ten I hit the barriers and damaged my rear right suspension and front right suspension. The team are working on this now but I would have liked to have kept the car on track and completed more miles.
Mark Webber, Jaguar (25th, no time):
Not the start to the weekend that I had anticipated or hoped for. I had my usual test programme to work through today but unfortunately I suffered a loss of engine oil pressure and had to come to an immediate stop on the track. The car caught on fire and I was forced to act quickly to try and limit the damage to the chassis and engine. The damage, despite my efforts was extensive enough for me to miss out on the second session. The team are working flat out to repair the car and at this stage the engine appears to be ok. However, until I get back out on track and actually put some miles on the car we won't really know. I would have liked to have completed more mileage today but that's the way it goes and we will be back out on Saturday ready for qualifying.