F1

Davidson leads European GP first practice

Davidson leads European GP first practice

BAR's whizz kid third driver Anthony Davidson topped the times in the first Friday practice for the European Grand Prix, leading the pair of Ferraris. Davidson's best was 1:29.447, just under two tenths faster than Michael Schumacher, and Rubens...

BAR's whizz kid third driver Anthony Davidson topped the times in the first Friday practice for the European Grand Prix, leading the pair of Ferraris. Davidson's best was 1:29.447, just under two tenths faster than Michael Schumacher, and Rubens Barrichello, third, was four tenths off the BAR. From Jaguar's Mark Webber in fourth fastest, the gap to Davidson's time was over two seconds and more for the rest of the field.

Anthony Davidson.
Photo by LAT Photographic.

Track temperature was in the high twenties, and air temperature a cool 14 degrees as the drivers came out for installation laps. Toyota third diver Ricardo Zonta was first to put a time up, 1:32.599, followed by Jordan counterpart Timo Glock. Both improved their times, Zonta remaining ahead, and the Minardis were next to join the action. Gianmaria Bruni took third fastest, Zsolt Baumgartner fourth and third driver Bas Leinders fifth.

Jordan's Giorgio Pantano disrupted the Minardi line up by taking fourth, then Davidson posted 1:31.815 for the top of the times. Pantano improved to third and Michael Schumacher was the first of the heavy hitters on the time sheet. His Ferrari clocked 1:130.146, over a second and a half up on Davidson.

Michael dropped his time by a tenth and brother Ralf was next to wind up a flyer. The Williams slotted into second, the gap still a second and a half to the Ferrari. Barrichello posted fourth on his first effort and Nick Heidfeld put his Jordan eighth. Fernando Alonso was the first Renault out, third quickest, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams in fourth.

Barrichello demoted Michael with a 1:29.908, a tenth up, and Cristiano da Matta made the top ten just behind Toyota teammate Zonta. Sauber's Felipe Massa slotted into ninth on his first flyer, while Davidson moved up to third. Jenson Button put his BAR sixth, teammate Takuma Sato taking ninth, but the second Sauber of Giancarlo Fisichella came to a halt in the middle sector. It was an engine problem, which will earn him the ten place demotion penalty for the starting grid.

Renault's Monaco winner Jarno Trulli was tenth on the time sheet, Toyota's Olivier Panis eighth. Jaguar was slow to get going, Christian Klien finally appearing in 18th after 40 minutes. Ralf improved to fourth and Massa to tenth, after being shuffled down the order. Kimi Raikkonen finally put a McLaren in action after 50 minutes, taking the fourth spot. Massa improved again, this time to fifth, and Raikkonen was demoted a position by Zonta.

Jaguar third driver Bj?rn Wirdheim posted 19th and teammate Webber took the popular fourth fastest position. David Coulthard managed 12th in the second McLaren on his first effort. Michael returned to the top with a 1:29.631, just under three tenths up on Barrichello, but Davidson squeezed in a 1:29.447 to take over.

The gap between the top three and the rest of the field was rather large but it was, as usual, a fairly cautious start to Friday. Zonta's 24 laps were the most of the session, Raikkonen doing the least with four, apart from Fisichella's aborted efforts. Final top eight classification: Davidson, M. Schumacher, Barrichello, Webber, Zonta, Raikkonen, Massa, R. Schumacher.

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