Friday First Free Practice - Australian GP
Friday March 2nd, 2001
Brazilian Rubens Barrichello upstaged teammate and world champion Michael Schumacher to set the fastest time in Friday's first free practice session for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday.
Barrichello slashed almost one-third of a second off Jacques Villeneuve's 1997 lap record as he powered his Ferrari around the Albert Park street circuit in one minute 29.056 seconds.
Schumacher also dipped under Villeneuve's four-year-old record but had to settle for second fastest overall, 0.312 seconds behind his teammate.
Friday's practice times do not count towards qualifying for Sunday's opening race of the year but did suggest little has changed from last season.
McLaren, second behind Ferrari in the 2000 constructors' championship, filled the next two places as the first four drivers all went under the time Schumacher set to take pole position 12 months ago.
Finn Mika Hakkinen, world champion in 1998 and 1999 and runner-up a year ago, was third quickest with a best lap of 1:30.037. His Scottish teammate David Coulthard was just 0.015 seconds behind in fourth place.
Schumacher's younger brother Ralf was the best of the rest, clocking the fifth best time overall in his Williams. But he was more than a second adrift of the two silver McLarens.
It was a relatively incident-free first session although Ralf Schumacher and his new Colombian teammate Juan Pablo Montoya both slid off the track into the grass.
Brazilian Enrique Bernoldi was the first driver onto the circuit but his Arrows colleague Jos Verstappen was the early pacesetter before he also ran off the track.
Olivier Panis, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Hakkinen all took their turn at the top of the leaderboard before they were overtaken by the two Ferraris.