Wet-dry running provides few lessons on day one
There was little to be learnt in terms of set-up at Magny-Cours on Friday thanks to the constantly changing track conditions. Tyre choice will now be left until after Saturdays practice sessions. Heres what the drivers made of it all on the opening day in France.
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (1st, 1m 15.518s):
"Obviously it is nice to finish top of the timesheets in the second session today, but that does not necessarily mean anything. We timed our last run to perfection and went out on a new set of tyres when the track was at its best. Our main objective for today was to carry out the tyre evaluation, which was pretty impossible in the ever-changing wet-dry track conditions. At least we have the two practice sessions tomorrow morning in order to do our back-to-back comparison before we have to make our final decision by noon. A very inconclusive day, really."
Jarno Trulli, Renault (2nd, 1m 16.206s):
Anthony Davidson, BAR (3rd, 1m 16.231s):
"The rain has been a little frustrating today but not entirely unexpected. We haven't been able to get anywhere near as much running as we'd hoped but sufficient dry running for what is likely to be a dry but cool weekend ahead. The car felt good in all conditions and I was comfortable pushing hard all day. Once again it feels good to be the fastest of the third drivers today and P3 in the second session."
Jenson Button, BAR (4th, 1m 16.397s):
"We normally run a longer programme, but there have been such changeable weather conditions, with a lot of stopping and starting, so we haven't achieved all we had hoped for. Luckily we got all three cars out in the dry and we can choose our tyres after tomorrow's free practice. I think that we have a good tyre, and the car really feels good. We just need to make a few adjustments to the set-up and I think that we will be up there tomorrow pushing hard with Ferrari."
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (5th, 1m 16.397s):
A rather different Friday to normal and we were not able to run much because of the weather. We decided there was little point in running in the wet as the forecast is for dry weather over the next two days. We preferred to only go out in the dry and we did manage to sort out the car a little bit. But to be honest, I did not get much of a feeling as to how it is going.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (6th, 1m 16.454s):
David Coulthard, McLaren (7th, 1m 16.464s):
"Our running today was affected by the wet weather, so there is very little data to work with, but it's the same for everybody. Fortunately we don't have to make a decision about tyres until lunchtime tomorrow, so hopefully the weather will stay dry. However, so far so good, but we will only really know how good the 19B is once we have completed qualifying and the race."
Mark Webber, Jaguar (8th, 1m 16.745s):
I managed 14 laps today which is not exactly satisfactory given what we were planning to do. Unfortunately the weather conditions really hampered our running time and we had to make do with that limited number of laps. All of the teams are in the same boat though so there is not a lot we can do about it. During the time I was on track though, the R5 felt good and the balance was fine. I am now preparing for tomorrow and I will be looking for more track time so it should be a busy day.
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (9th, 1m 16.794s):
"We only did one run today because of the weather, which is a shame. However the car felt good, but that is all I can say at the moment. There is definitely more to come as I didn't even push particularly hard. It's difficult to say how big a step forward we have taken, but it should become clear as the weekend progresses."
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (10th, 1m 17.094s):
It was not a difficult day because the weather meant we did very few laps. The car was okay this morning and in the second session I only went out on used tyres so it is hard to have an impression of how the car is performing. We will have to wait until tomorrow to define the right car set-up and tyre choice.
Olivier Panis, Toyota (11th, 1m 17.303s):
"Due to the constantly changing weather conditions it was a quite difficult day for us. However, we tried to concentrate on our programme and hopefully we can find some valuable information from the data in preparation for tomorrow. At the end of the session we decided not to go out any more with a new set of tyres and to set some faster times. Nevertheless I am really happy with the car as it looks quite competitive. It is nice to be back racing in France in front of my home fans and I hope we can give them a good result to celebrate on Sunday. We will get a clearer indication in tomorrow's practice sessions."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (12th, 1m 17.324s):
"I did only one lap today on new tyres in the dry, so there's not much to say after the unusual conditions that we experienced. I didn't go out this morning and this afternoon I only did a few laps before switching the tyres. The day was nothing special!"
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (13th, 1m 17.556s):
Not exactly the best way to start a race weekend, really. I went out in the morning when it was raining quite heavily and my car was aquaplaning so much that I just could not keep it on the track. I had quite a big crash and the car was seriously damaged, but luckily enough I walked away with no physical consequences at all. Anyway, after my car came back to the garage and was thoroughly checked and fixed, I could go out again for the last half of the second session. A big thanks to the mechanics who were very quick in putting my car back on track. But still weather conditions were changing so quickly, that I could not get too much running either.
Marc Gene, Williams (14th, 1m 17.688s):
We had no easy running, today, but in spite of the continuously changing track conditions, I managed to have a long run and we still gathered some useful information and data about tyres and set-up. However it is difficult to say where everyone is, since the track was different in different moments. I am quite pleased with my performance, but I was one of the first to go out on dry tyres. Now we are looking at the setup for tomorrow.
Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (15th, 1m 17.735s):
"We didn't obtain any meaningful results from either of today's practice sessions because the weather conditions were so changeable. My last time of running at Magny-Cours was back in 2000, so I took a few laps in the first session to learn the modifications to the final sector, which are new to me. In the second session, I made a mistake on a dry tyre run. I was carrying too much speed into the third corner and I drove through a large patch of standing water, which appeared to be dry as I was approaching it. This sent me into the gravel trap, but it was easy to get back on track and fortunately we did not lose too much time. Like everyone, the inconsistent track conditions affected our programme a lot today."
Christian Klien, Jaguar (16th, 1m 17.936s):
Today was quite a difficult day with us only completing ten laps in dry conditions. The rain was quite unpredictable and just as the track was drying out it started raining again. This does make it difficult for us to complete our testing programme but we did our best and I am pleased with the results. I like this track and feel comfortable here and I am now focusing on the task ahead tomorrow.
Takuma Sato, BAR (17th, 1m 17.967s):
"We were not able to do much running due to the changeable weather but we were at least able to run our dry tyre session which will be useful considering that the rest of the weekend is expected to be dry. We had a productive test at Jerez, so we are confident for tomorrow and we now have to see what the weather brings in order to make our tyre choice somewhat later than usual after free practice tomorrow. I am really looking forward to another strong weekend like we had at Indianapolis.
Felipe Massa, Sauber (18th, 1m 18.614s):
"It's a shame things were inconclusive today because of the rain. There was no point running this morning, and the rain came this afternoon while I was in the pits for my new tyres. All I got was a chance to check out the changes made to the track since I last raced here in 2002. We had a good test in Barcelona last week, though, so I'm optimistic if we have a dry day tomorrow and on Sunday."
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (19th, 1m 18.711s):
Well it was quite interesting today! The weather changed all the time and every quarter of an hour the track was different: wet, dry, combinations of the two, and practice was quite entertaining as a result. However, it was quite difficult to understand the tyres, the set-up and everything with the conditions. In the end I think we got to understand a bit and we know the problems with the car so well see what happens with the weather tomorrow.
Bjorn Wirdheim, Jaguar (20th, 1m 19.179s):
Today was not ideal for us as the bad weather affected our running time quite extensively. I tried my best to work on tyres during the morning session but it was so difficult with the conditions changing so rapidly. I am pleased to see that we now have until tomorrow at midday to make our tyre choice, otherwise it would have been a very frustrating decision to have to make.
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (21st, 1m 19.270s):
It was a disappointing day for everybody really as the bad weather conditions restricted everybodys work. It is probably more of a hindrance for our team though; because we havent done as much testing as other teams over the last few months. We have not gathered enough data for tomorrow so its going to be difficult to make the tyre choice so it is good this decision is delayed until midday tomorrow.
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (22nd, 1m 19.349s):
"It was a very changeable day from a weather standpoint. We started with dry tyres, then went to shallow wets, then full wets, and then back to shallow wets and dries again! At the end of the day, it was okay, although we weren't able to show our real pace. I'm sure tomorrow will be a better day, and I'm looking forward to making further progress."
Timo Glock, Jordan 23 rd, 1m 19.490s):
The beginning was a bit difficult, with the track dry then wet then dry again at the end. The car felt good in the conditions, it was fun to drive and quick. Unfortunately at the end when the track had dried we had brake problems and so missed the last few minutes of the session.
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (24th, 1m 19.636s):
"I was happy with the wet conditions and didn't find the track too bad at all. The mechanics had to work really hard changing tyres and resetting the car as the track surface either became wet or dried out. They did a great job. I was a little bit upset that I wasn't able to achieve the lap time that we felt should have been possible today, but I was happy with my performance in the wet conditions. We'll be hoping for some rain in the race."
Bas Leinders, Minardi (25th, 1m 19.914s):
"Obviously, the rain interrupted our normal Friday programme, and we also lost some time with electrical problems in the first session and then an engine misfire in the second. Even so, we managed to find a set-up that produced good chassis stability in the corners, and as a result, the lap times were quite good, all things considered."