Tuesday May 15th, 2001
Two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen recovered from a very disappointing Austrian Grand Prix to break the Valencia circuit's record on the first day of testing at the Spanish track.
Hakkinen, who was left stranded on the grid at the A1-Ring on Sunday, returned to the wheel only 48 hours after his retirement in Austria, setting a new record of 1:13.226, lapping more than 1.5 seconds faster than German Nick Heidfeld.
Heidfeld also recovered well from his disappointing Austrian Grand Prix, where he too stalled his car at the start, setting the second fastest time for the Sauber team after completing a total of 29 laps.
"This is a very important test for us, prior to Monaco," Sauber's test engineer Remi Decorzent said. "Our primary focus today was tyre selection for the next race, which has a similarly low-grip surface to Valencia. Today we did some aerodynamic work for high-downforce running for Monte Carlo and medium-downforce work for Montreal.
"We will work tomorrow on refinement of our traction and launch control systems, and on power steering. Nick Heidfeld did only 10 laps this morning because of myriad sensor problems. We are pleased with the performance we were able to show after that."
Williams' test driver Marc Gene, who stopped on the track with mechanical problems, was third quickest, continuing with the development of the FW23's traction control system.
"It was a very positive day, as we were able to thoroughly complete the scheduled programme," said Gene. "We have been working on some specs for the Monaco Grand Prix as well as on traction control, where we have found some improvements.
"We are going in the right direction, no doubt. Tomorrow we will be concentrating on the tyres, which is something I enjoy."
Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen and test driver Ricardo Zonta were fourth and fifth quickest respectively, the Brazilian suffering a reported gearbox problem which forced him to stop on the track.
Austrian Alexander Wurz was at the wheel of the second McLaren, lapping more than two seconds slower than Hakkinen, while Briton Johnny Herbert returned to his testing duties for the Arrows team, posting the seventh quickest time of the session in front of Enrique Bernoldi in the Arrows and Luciano Burti in the Prost.
Testing at Valencia will continue on Wednesday, when Jaguar and BAR will join the four-day session.
Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time
1. Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:13.226
2. Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas (B) 1:14.871
3. Gene Williams-BMW (M) 1:14.903
4. Frentzen Jordan-Honda (B) 1:15.062
5. Zonta Jordan-Honda (B) 1:15.624
6. Wurz McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:15.825
7. Herbert Arrows-Asiatech (B) 1:16.228
8. Bernoldi Arrows-Asiatech (B) 1:16.560
9. Burti Prost-Acer (M) 1:16.619
All Timing Unofficial