Saturday August 26th, 2000
Hakkinen Heads Field Into Qualifying
Mika Hakkinen took the fastest time for McLaren Mercedes at the end of the final free practice session before qualifying for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, the Finn saying later that he could have gone quicker, but did not try to string a quick lap together after working on set-up changes to improve different sector times. David Coulthard sat out most of the first half of the session while his team changed the engine in his car after there was a problem when it was warmed up before the session. Coulthard still managed 20 laps with a fresh engine later in the session, but did not better sixth fastest time. However, he was happy with his car and expects to be able to challenge for the pole during qualifying.
Williams-BMW Going Well Again
Jenson Button took the second fastest time of the session, the young British driver delighted with the handling of his Williams-BMW but for a slight understeer on some of the corners. He ran 23 laps during the session, setting his time with a fresh set of tyres at the end. Ralf Schumacher did not run a new set of tyres at the end, complaining of more understeer than his team-mate, but also delighted with his car in the high-speed corners, the German fifth fastest for the session.
Jordan Aiming for a Front Row Spot
The Jordan team reckons they could take a place on the front row in qualifying. Jarno Trulli was third fastest this morning, but admitted a mistake at the chicane on his quickest lap had probably cost him another couple of tenths of a second. Heinz Harald Frentzen was fourth fastest, but he sat out most of the second half of the session when his engine lost power and he was forced to park his car on the circuit. Until then he had been second fastest.
Ferrari Struggling for Speed
Michael Schumacher ended the morning a disappointed seventh fastest with Rubens Barrichello back in ninth place. The Ferrari drivers were trying all sorts of set-up changes in order to improve performance, but could not get the balance they were looking for, the latest revised aerodynamic package, which worked well in testing in Mugello seemingly not working as they had hoped at this circuit. Both cars had been fitted with qualifying engines today.
Pollock Goes Home
Having felt ill yesterday, Craig Pollock, CEO of BAR, returned home to Switzerland this morning leaving designer Malcolm Oastler to run the team for the rest of the weekend. Jacques Villeneuve took eighth fastest and was happy with the overall performance of his BAR-Honda, while Ricardo Zonta was still struggling back in 18th position complaining of understeer. Both drivers fitted fresh tyres to set their times.
While Johnny Herbert made the top 10 for Jaguar in tenth spot this morning, Eddie Irvine was still trying to improve his chassis unable to get any advantage with a fresh set of tyres that saw him unable to better 15th. The Prost team made a step forward this morning, Jean Alesi took 11th fastest and Heidfeld 13th, both much happier with the handling of their cars after overnight changes. After a strong showing yesterday the Benetton drivers were back to complaining of their usual lack of grip and traction this morning, Fisichella slipping back to 12th place with Wurz 14th just behind him.
Jos Verstappen went to the back of the time sheets this morning when he stopped on the track with an alternator belt failure on his Arrows. De La Rosa was 16th fastest in the second Arrows. The good weather continues. The unusually high track temperatures (28c this morning) too high for the Porsche cup runners. Their race had to be cancelled because of troubles with their Pirelli tyres. Marc Gene had a fright when his Minardi lost its engine cover at high speed.
Pos Driver Team Times
1. Hakkinen McLaren Mercedes 1:51.043 225.902 km/h
2. Button Williams BMW 1:51.367 + 0.324
3. Trulli Jordan Mugen-Honda 1:51.545 + 0.502
4. Frentzen Jordan Mugen-Honda 1:51.821 + 0.778
5. R.Schumacher Williams BMW 1:51.998 + 0.955
6. Coulthard McLaren Mercedes 1:52.088 + 1.045
7. M.Schumacher Ferrari 1:52.282 + 1.239
8. Villeneuve BAR Honda 1:52.335 + 1.292
9. Barrichello Ferrari 1:52.553 + 1.510
10. Herbert Jaguar Cosworth 1:52.769 + 1.726
11. Alesi Prost Peugeot 1:52.830 + 1.787
12. Fisichella Benetton Playlife 1:53.085 + 2.042
13. Heidfeld Prost Peugeot 1:53.278 + 2.235
14. Wurz Benetton Playlife 1:53.306 + 2.263
15. Irvine Jaguar Cosworth 1:53.395 + 2.352
16. de la Rosa Arrows Supertec 1:53.778 + 2.735
17. Diniz Sauber Petronas 1:53.799 + 2.756
18. Zonta BAR Honda 1:54.262 + 3.219
19. Salo Sauber Petronas 1:54.334 + 3.291
20. Gene Minardi Fondmetal 1:54.587 + 3.544
21. Mazzacane Minardi Fondmetal 1:54.804 + 3.761
22. Verstappen Arrows Supertec 1:54.969 + 3.926
All timing unofficial