Thursday March 22nd, 2001
Current Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher continued his dominance of the 2001 championship by setting the fastest time on his first day of testing at the Barcelona circuit, where a massive seventeen drivers of nine different teams continued a four-day session on Thursday.
Schumacher, who took a dominant win at the Malaysian Grand Prix last Sunday, joined Ferrari's test driver Luca Badoer today, the German driving this year's F2001 while the Italian continued working on the old F1-2000, testing the traction control system which is to be introduced at the Spanish Grand Prix in April.
"This is our last chance to run on this track before the race here on 29th April," said Schumacher at the end of the day. "We concentrated on car set-up. As for the next race in Brazil, I can say that I cannot see any reason why we should not be as competitive as we were in the first two races of the season."
Schumacher completed a total of 71 laps around the Catalan track, with a best time of 1:20.030, more than six tenths of a second quicker than Frenchman Olivier Panis, who also joined the session today and set the second fastest time at the wheel of the BAR-Honda 003 after 49 laps.
German Heinz-Harald Frentzen continued working for the Jordan team for the second consecutive day, setting the third fastest time driving the EJ11. He was joined by Italian teammate Jarno Trulli, who took over the 05 chassis during the afternoon session, and who ended seventh quickest after 59 laps.
Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard were among the top names who also joined the Barcelona testing on Thursday. The Finn, one of the busiest men today running a 83 laps, was fourth quickest, while teammate Coulthard was ninth, almost two seconds behind Schumacher's time.
Jaguar's Eddie Irvine completed a mammoth 100 laps around the track on his way to the fifth spot driving the R2. The Ulsterman was the fastest Michelin runner today, while Jaguar's test driver Pedro de la Rosa, also driving an R2 chassis, was only tenth.
One of the stars of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Dutchman Jos Verstappen, replaced Briton Johnny Herbert at the wheel of the Arrows, joining Brazilian teammate Enrique Bernoldi, who began working on Wednesday. Verstappen drove the Asiatech-powered A22, continuing the team's aerodynamic and suspension developments and setting the eighth fastest time, while Bernoldi carried out electrical testing with the 2000-spec A21 and could only manage the 15th quickest lap of the day.
After a frustrating first day at Barcelona for BAR, the team was able to test today with Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis. The Canadian was eleventh after spinning during the session, while his French teammate saw his day's work affected by an engine problem which forced him to use the old car.
Spaniard Marc Gene was the fastest Williams driver today, despite Ralf Schumacher joining him. The German, who suffered a mechanical failure which forced him to stop on the track, took over teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, setting one of the slowest times of the day.
"I suffered a few technical problems today," explained Schumacher. "Late in the afternoon, I heard some strange noises coming from the engine and I decided to stop the car on the track.
The team is now investigating to understand what went wrong. Before that, I was working mainly on traction control and set-up work for the Spanish Grand Prix. Due to a bad sore throat and a cold that I caught in Malaysia, I won’t be able to continue testing tomorrow."
It was yet another disappointing day for the Benetton team, whose drivers Mark Webber, driving the old B200, and Jenson Button, with the B201, continued to struggle, the young Brit completing only thirteen laps on his way to last place.
Testing at Barcelona will conclude on Friday.
Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time
1. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:20.030
2. Panis BAR-Honda (B) 1:20.775
3. Frentzen Jordan-Honda (B) 1:20.963
4. Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:20.975
5. Irvine Jaguar-Cosworth (M) 1:20.983
6. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:21.037
7. Trulli Jordan-Honda (B) 1:21.729
8. Verstappen Arrows-Asiatech (B) 1:21.864
9. Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:21.864
10. de la Rosa Jaguar-Cosworth (M) 1:21.875
11. Villeneuve BAR-Honda (B) 1:21.975
12. Gene Williams-BMW (M) 1:22.080
13. Webber Benetton-Renault (M) 1:22.150
14. Servia Prost-Acer (M) 1:22.137
15. Bernoldi Arrows-Asiatech (B) 1:22.240
16. R.Schumacher Williams-BMW (M) 1:22.276
17. Button Benetton-Renault (M) 1:25.395
All Timing Unofficial