David Coulthard put McLaren back at the top of the timesheets at Magny-Cours as he led the way in the pre-race warm-up for the French Grand Prix.


Like qualifying on Saturday, the session ran in appalling conditions, with heavy rain making the circuit treacherous for the drivers. All 22 runners ventured out, however, as the half-hour gave them the chance to try wet weather tyres on carefully worked out set-ups. This, combined with less water on the circuit than in qualifying, allowed Coulthard to post a best time some seven seconds quicker than Rubens Barrichello's pole lap.


Coulthard's team-mate Mika Hakkinen, and Ferrari's Eddie Irvine, highlighted the lottery that qualifying became on Saturday by putting up sixth and second best times respectively. The championship leader and Australian GP winner will start today's race from 14th and 17th places on the grid.


Local heroes Olivier Panis and Jean Alesi backed up their strong qualifying performances in seventh and eighth, however, and will be hoping for continued wet conditions this afternoon. Polesitter Barrichello, meanwhile, almost didn't make the session, as he got caught in race-bound traffic and had to be given an escort to the circuit by local police.


Race morning warm-up - French Grand Prix.


1. David Coulthard Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1min 32.091secs

2. Eddie Irvine Britain Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 32.111secs

3. Michael Schumacher Germany Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 32.449secs

4. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Germany Jordan-Mugen 1min 32.621secs

5. Ralf Schumacher Germany Williams-Supertec 1min 33.465secs

6. Mika Hakkinen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1min 33.613secs

7. Olivier Panis France Prost-Peugeot 1min 34.003secs

8. Jean Alesi France Sauber-Petronas 1min 34.022secs

9. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Stewart-Ford 1min 34.355secs

10. Jarno Trulli Italy Prost-Peugeot 1min 34.478secs

11. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Benetton-Playlife 1min 34.892secs

12. Johnny Herbert Britain Stewart-Ford 1min 34.924secs

13. Jacques Villeneuve Canada BAR-Supertec 1min 34.951secs

14. Alex Wurz Austria Benetton-Playlife 1min 35.099secs

15. Damon Hill Britain Jordan-Mugen 1min 35.484secs

16. Pedro Diniz Brazil Sauber-Petronas 1min 35.611secs

17. Tora Takagi Japan Arrows-Arrows 1min 36.830secs

18. Alex Zanardi Italy Williams-Supertec 1min 37.288secs

19. Ricardo Zonta Brazil BAR-Supertec 1min 37.415secs

20. Luca Badoer Italy Minardi-Ford 1min 38.415secs

21. Pedro de la Rosa Spain Arrows-Arrows 1min 38.636secs

22. Marc Gene Spain Minardi-Ford 1min 38. 824secs

 

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