1st practice opens season at Australian GP

1st practice opens season at Australian GP

It's cool and cloudy in Melbourne, the track is slightly damp but it's not raining. Allan McNish is first man on track for Toyota as soon as the pitlane is open, as are many cars. After a shakedown lap most cars are back in the garage, with a wet...

It's cool and cloudy in Melbourne, the track is slightly damp but it's not raining. Allan McNish is first man on track for Toyota as soon as the pitlane is open, as are many cars. After a shakedown lap most cars are back in the garage, with a wet track it's hard to judge how the teams are fairing up. Nick Heidfeld ventures out for Sauber, Jarno Trulli for Renault.

Ferrari Technical Director Ross Brawn says they are saving wet tyres as the weather forecast is not good.

Pedro de la Rosa.
Photo by Jaguar Racing.

McNish is out again as the rain starts to fall, as is Takuma Sato for Jordan, looking a bit wobbly, but sets a 1.56.562 for provisional fastest. More cars are coming out on track; Giancarlo Fisichella set the fastest time, then was beaten by team mate Sato. Jaguar's Pedro de la Rosa suddenly takes the front of the time sheets, immediately eclipsed by the McLaren of David Coulthard with a 1.43.388.

Olivier Panis has a brake problem with is BAR004, Michael Schumacher is up in second, Heinz-Harald Frentzen spun in the Arrows but not a major incident. New rookie Felipe Massa takes fourth as Michael Schumacher finally knocks Coulthard off the top of the times. Jenson Button is the fastest Renault in 11th, McNish holding new boys Toyota in 12th. Reubens Barrichello sets fourth fastest for Ferrari and Heidfeld jumps up to third in the C21. Panis had a minor off, Barrichello now sets third, Kimi Raikkonen is up in fourth for McLaren.

Barichello jumps to second, Michael Schumacher still first, the two McLarens of Coulthard and Raikkonen in third and fourth, followed by the BAR of Panis and the Williams of Ralf Schumacher. It has gone quiet for the minute.

Panis jumps to second! Toyota and Minardi are down in the tail-enders. Fisichella is getting some mileage for Jordan, takes second under Panis who takes top position for BAR -- how long will this last? The track is drying out, Enrique Bernoldi takes fifth for Arrows, Trulli tenth for Renault. Fisichella takes top of the times and is immediately beaten by Michael Schumacher with a 1.35.375. Ferrari have 1-2 at the moment, no great surprise.

Mark Webber.
Photo by Minardi Formula 1.

Heidfeld takes second for Sauber. Michael Schumacher still top for Ferrari, followed by Heidfeld, Barrichello, Fisichella, Ralf Schumacher. Fourteen minutes to go, not a lot of action right now. Massa goes third for Sauber. Toyota are the first team to venture out on dry tyres. Conditions are improving by the second, both Williams drivers out on track -- McNish for Toyota goes fourth. Mark Webber for Minardi goes fifth, Frentzen goes fourth for Arrows; Ralf Schumacher second, Michael Schumacher still top.

Sunny in Melbourne, track conditions are warm -- Bernoldi goes 6th for Arrows, current standings are Michael Schumacher, Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher, Bernoldi. Fisichella takes third in the last moments.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Pedro de la Rosa , Enrique Bernoldi , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Olivier Panis , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Allan McNish , Ross Brawn , Felipe Massa
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jaguar Racing , Jordan