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Ferrari leads in Spanish GP first practice

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Ferrari leads in Spanish GP first practice

Ferrari led the way in the opening practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello taking a one-two at the top of times on Friday morning. Schumacher's best of 1:16.658 was just under four tenths ahead of ...

Ferrari led the way in the opening practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello taking a one-two at the top of times on Friday morning. Schumacher's best of 1:16.658 was just under four tenths ahead of Barrichello, and BAR third driver Anthony Davidson was about half a second down on the Brazilian.

Michael Schumacher.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.

Conditions were dry and mild as the cars headed out of the pits for installation laps. Toyota third driver Ricardo Zonta was the first to set a time, 1:19.578, followed by Jaguar's Bjorn Wirdheim who took over with a 1:19.270. Davidson was nearly a second faster with 1:18.318, while Jordan's Timo Glock and Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner and Bas Leinders joined the times on the board.

The second race Minardi of Gianmaria Bruni took fifth of the seven cars on track and Zonta improved his time but stayed second. Ralf Schumacher was the first of the front runners to set a time, the Williams taking the top spot with a 1:17.165, over a second up on Davidson. Jordan's Nick Heidfeld slotted into fifth then Davidson demoted Ralf by half a second, 1:16.616.

The BAR was eclipsed by the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher who set a 1:15.658 on his first flyer, the gap rising to nearly a second. Mark Webber put his Jaguar fourth fastest, followed by Renault's Jarno Trulli in fifth and Sauber's Felipe Massa in sixth. The Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya was next to take the fifth slot and the second Renault of Fernando Alonso took fourth on his first attempt.

Jaguar also had Christian Klien and Wirdheim still in the top ten, while just outside was the second Sauber of Giancarlo Fisichella. Barrichello took second fastest, three tenths down on teammate Michael and Cristiano da Matta improved to eighth, but Toyota teammate Olivier Panis had yet to set a time with 15 minutes to go -- the McLarens had also not ventured out, nor the BAR race cars.

Zonta improved to fourth fastest, he and Davidson as usual making the best impression amongst the third drivers on a Friday. Kimi Raikkonen posted seventh when he finally made it out on track, McLaren teammate David Coulthard 10th.

Jenson Button put his BAR fifth on his first timed lap and Takuma Sato managed eighth. The Ferraris remained static at the top, Davidson some half a second down on Barrichello, but Friday times have proved inconclusive so far this season.

Few laps were put in -- 17 being the top limit by Baumgartner, 26 for Davidson and Zonta the most of the third drivers -- and there were no surprises. Ferrari's pace at the front is a similar gap to what we have seen before on a Friday but it's early days yet. Final top eight classification: M.Schumacher, Barrichello, Davidson, Zonta, Button, R. Schumacher, Alonso, Sato.

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