Friday First Free Practice - French GP
Friday June 30th, 2000
Schumacher easily fastest for Ferrari
Using new barge boards but not the new smoke-stack air extractors on the sidepods, Michael Schumacher did two runs, each with new rubber, and was happy with set-up changes which improved the car. "The car felt fine, and I'm very satisfied with my start to the weekend," the German said. Rubens Barrichello did just an installation lap because Ferrari gathered so much data in testing here last week, and decided to conserve tyres.
Hakkinen quick, Coulthard troubled
Mika Hakkinen had no problems on his way to second fastest time, drawing on the data gathered here last week, but David Coulthard had a fuel pump failure on his installation lap. The problem occurred on a downhill section, so the Scot was fortunately able to coax his McLaren back to the pits. He stayed there for the rest of the session while the problem was cured.
Heidfeld flies for Prost
Nick Heidfeld was third fastest for Prost, but complained of oversteer, and lack of traction getting off kerbs under acceleration. Jean Alesi was happier after electronic adjustments to his Peugeot engine, but complained of lack of grip. Both used only one set of tyres each and the Evo III Peugeot V10. The new Evo IV will be used for qualifying.
Schumacher fourth for Williams
Ralf Schumacher felt that his Williams-BMW was better than it had been in testing here last week, but was troubled by turn-in oversteer. Jenson Button went out late to save tyres, but had problems under braking and with understeer going into slow corners and oversteer on the exit.
Eddie Irvine reported that the steering on his Jaguar felt particularly heavy here, and said, "The problem here is that the times you can produce are so sensitive to a combination of wind and track temperature." Johnny Herbert's R1 was sliding around too much under braking, especially in sector two.
Giancarlo Fisichella had oversteer in slow corners with his Benetton, and understeer in the fast sections. Alexander Wurz reported similar handling characteristics, but was also troubled by a brake problem. "The track conditions are very different from last week," the Austrian reported.
Jos Verstappen had a mechanical problem and came into the pits with his Arrows smoking heavily. Both Sauber drivers tried less downforce, deciding to try something new after covering so many laps in testing last week, but the experiment was not successful and they will revert to last week's levels of aerodynamic loading this afternoon. Both BAR drivers reported high tyre degradation after 20 laps, and Ricardo Zonta went through a gravel bed during his second run after trying too hard. Jarno Trulli had a problem with his brakes, and Heinz-Harald Frentzen did only one installation lap in his Jordan.