Friday April 21st, 2000
By Timothy Collings
Heinz-Harald Frentzen headed the times on Friday after rain-hit opening free practice for Sunday's British Grand Prix.
The Jordan driver clocked a best lap of one minute 27.683 seconds on a day of intermittent heavy showers and brief sunny intervals.
He was 0.4 of second quicker than Eddie Irvine in a Jaguar with David Coulthard third in a McLaren.
"Today, we had a good day and we did a good job," Frentzen said. "It is hard to know if we can maintain this throughout the weekend, but it is certainly a good start.
"It was a perfect day because we were fastest and also because we ran in all sorts of different conditions. The weather was no surprise to me. We know from testing that can have all four seasons in a single day here at Silverstone," he added.
Coulthard's team mate Mika Hakkinen was fourth ahead of Jarno Trulli in the second Jordan, with Jacques Villeneuve sixth in his BAR-Honda.
Coulthard's progress was handicapped when his car ran off the circuit and, as he attempted to steer it back on he appeared to lose power.
A rescue vehicle tried to collect the stranded car but it became stuck in the mud. The session had to be stopped for 12 minutes so the McLaren could be pulled clear.
"From a driver's point of view it is very dangerous and you just cannot see," Coulthard said.
World championship leader Michael Schumacher and other drivers also warned heavy rain could turn Sunday's race into a dangerous lottery.
"In these conditions, it is almost impossible to drive and it is also dangerous," Schumacher said. "I would suggest to the International Automobile Association that when the weather is like this the Safety Car should be used in practice as well as the race."
Schumacher ignored the rush to clock a decent time and contented himself with preparation work on his Ferrari. But later he admitted the session was "almost useless in terms of setting up the car".
The German wound up in 21st place in the session, ahead of Britain's 1995 winner Johnny Herbert, in a Jaguar.
Silverstone and the police issued a statement asking spectators with tickets for Saturday not to travel to Silverstone by car because the car-parks were flooded and would be closed.