Ferrari kicked of its home race weekend on good form with a one-two from Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher in the Italian Grand Prix Friday practice session. Barrichello clocked a 1:21.001 for the top spot, one and a half tenths quicker...
Ferrari kicked of its home race weekend on good form with a one-two from Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher in the Italian Grand Prix Friday practice session. Barrichello clocked a 1:21.001 for the top spot, one and a half tenths quicker than his teammate. However, it wasn't a Ferrari dominated session as a few drivers traded the fastest time until the scarlet pair finished ahead.
The Toyota duo of Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta were first out on track, followed by McLaren's David Coulthard and the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya. Da Matta clocked the first time of the session, a 1:28.286, as more drivers joined the practice. Coulthard was next to the top with a more realistic 1:24.451, then Ralf Schumacher took over with 1:22.829.
Barrichello was the first Ferrari on track and took the top slot with a 1:22.625, two tenths quicker than Ralf. Jenson Button, Mark Webber, Kimi Raikkonen, Zsolt Baumgartner -- standing in for Jordan's Ralph Firman -- and Michael Schumacher made up the early top ten. Michael only did a couple of installation laps before returning to the pits.
Button moved up to third, 1:23.464 for the BAR driver, then Montoya displaced Barrichello with a 1:21.880. Jordan's Giancarlo Fisichello took the tenth time and Webber moved his Jaguar up to seventh. Fernando Alonso set third fastest on his first flying lap and teammate Jarno Trulli, who was fastest in this morning's test session, took fourth.
Michael set the second fastest time when he returned to the track, half a second behind Montoya, and the second Jaguar of Justin Wilson moved into eighth on his initial foray. Ralf improved to sixth quickest while the Jordans slid to the back of the field with the Saubers. Coulthard returned to the top ten and by half way through the most of the action was in the backmarkers.
The Saubers and Jordans continued to squabble behind fourteenth placed Jacques Villeneuve but the Minardis had yet to make an appearance. When they did, Jos Verstappen took fifteenth and Nicolas Kiesa nineteenth. Villeneuve improved to ninth and Raikkonen finally demoted Montoya from the top; 1:21.704 for the McLaren driver, just under two tenths quicker. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who had been last, moved up to thirteenth.
Raikkonen's time didn't last very long as Michael went half a second faster, 1:21.152. The Toyotas returned to the top ten, Da Matta fourth and Panis sixth, while Montoya improved his time but stayed second. Button took fifth fastest, Coulthard fourth and Alonso seventh. Raikkonen improved his time but remained behind Michael and then Barrichello took over from his teammate with a 1:21.044.
Some last minute activity saw the Saubers improve, Frentzen back to thirteenth and Heidfeld fourteenth, and both the Renaults in the top ten but it was the Ferraris that remained one and two at the end, Barrichello improving slightly again from Michael.
The tyre status quo did not seem overly different from usual: seven Michelin runners in the top ten and three Bridgestones, Button's BAR being the other Bridgestone shod car aside from the Ferraris. Pretty much business as usual. Final top eight classification: Barrichello, M. Schumacher, Raikkonen, Montoya, Coulthard, da Matta, Button, Alonso.