Friday April 27th, 2001
McLaren's David Coulthard was fastest in Friday's practice for the Spanish Grand Prix and Eddie Irvine revived the Jaguar roar by lapping second quickest.
The first practice sessions since the end of 1993 to see the legal use of traction control had joint championship leader Coulthard out front with a best of 1:20.107.
That compared with Giancarlo Fisichella's official 1997 race lap record of 1:22.242 and world champion Michael Schumacher's 2000 pole time of 1:20.974.
Schumacher, who shares the championship lead with Coulthard after four races, was fifth fastest on Friday behind Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello in third and BAR's Olivier Panis.
Times are likely to fall further in Saturday's official qualifying if it remains dry at a track where McLaren have finished first and second on race day for the past three years.
Briton Irvine responded well to pressure from his new Spanish team mate Pedro de la Rosa. De la Rosa is a local who knows the track well and will be making his Jaguar debut in Sunday's race after replacing Brazilian Luciano Burti. At one point the former Arrows driver was fifth fastest in 1:21.184 but Irvine replied by pulling out a late lap of 1:20.615.
The return of traction control, which reduces wheelspin and allows for cleaner cornering, did not make spins and skids a thing of the past. Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya did both into a gravel trap during the first session and was followed later, and at the same point, by the Jordan of Heinz-Harald Frentzen who went backwards into the tyre wall.
Canadian Jacques Villeneuve's involvement in the first session ended when his BAR belched flames from the rear as he left the pit lane. The former champion parked his car against a wall. Montoya, who led for half the Brazilian Grand Prix but has yet to finish any of his four races in Formula One, had no more luck in the afternoon when he pulled over with a smoking engine.
McLaren's Mika Hakkinen, the two times champion who has won the past three races in Barcelona but has scored just four points so far this season, was sixth fastest. The Finn also went into the gravel in the afternoon.
Brazilian Luciano Burti got closer to his new Prost team mate Jean Alesi than his Argentine predecessor Gaston Mazzacane had, but was still a second adrift of the French veteran. Burti's best time was 1:23.885 while Alesi's, in 15th place, was 1:22.843. Burti was 21st, sandwiched between the two Minardis.
Benetton's Jenson Button had been outpaced by the Minardi of Spaniard Fernando Alonso in the first session as the Renault-powered team complained of very low grip and a lot of understeer. But the 21-year-old Briton made up some ground in the afternoon and was 19th fastest to team mate Fisichella's 18th.
Pos. Driver Team Times
1. Coulthard McLaren Mercedes (B) 1:20.107 212.566 km/h
2. Irvine Jaguar Cosworth (M) 1:20.615 + 0.508
3. Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1:20.823 + 0.716
4. Panis BAR Honda (B) 1:20.826 + 0.719
5. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:20.880 + 0.773
6. Hakkinen McLaren Mercedes (B) 1:20.894 + 0.787
7. De La Rosa Jaguar Cosworth (M) 1:21.184 + 1.077
8. R.Schumacher Williams BMW (M) 1:21.259 + 1.152
9. Villeneuve BAR Honda (B) 1:21.401 + 1.294
10. Trulli Jordan Honda (B) 1:21.647 + 1.540
11. Raikkonen Sauber Petronas (B) 1:21.786 + 1.679
12. Heidfeld Sauber Petronas (B) 1:21.808 + 1.701
13. Montoya Williams BMW (M) 1:22.020 + 1.913
14. Frentzen Jordan Honda (B) 1:22.221 + 2.114
15. Alesi Prost Acer (M) 1:22.843 + 2.736
16. Bernoldi Arrows Asiatech (B) 1:22.888 + 2.781
17. Verstappen Arrows Asiatech (B) 1:22.962 + 2.855
18. Fisichella Benetton Renault (M) 1:22.971 + 2.864
19. Button Benetton Renault (M) 1:23.201 + 3.094
20. Alonso European Minardi (M) 1:23.801 + 3.694
21. Burti Prost Acer (M) 1:23.885 + 3.778
22. Marques European Minardi (M) 1:25.540 + 5.433
All timing unofficial