Panis leads Hungarian GP first practice

Olivier Panis topped the times in the first practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix, the Toyota driver setting a best of 1:21.770 in the closing minutes of Friday's session. It was an active start to the weekend; the top seven were separated by less...

Olivier Panis topped the times in the first practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix, the Toyota driver setting a best of 1:21.770 in the closing minutes of Friday's session. It was an active start to the weekend; the top seven were separated by less than a second, Panis leading from Renault's Jarno Trulli and Williams's Juan Pablo Montoya.

Warm and dry conditions greeted the session and Toyota's Cristiano da Matta was first out on track, followed by several other drivers. Montoya set the first competitive time, a 1:24.065 for the Williams, followed by the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher: 1:23:953. Ralf Schumacher, David Coulthard and Panis made up the early front runners.

The Jaguar duo of Mark Webber and Justin Wilson were next to take to the circuit, while Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button were the other two drivers putting in laps. Webber immediately shot to the top of the times with a 1:23.617, three tenths up on Michael and Wilson slotted into fourth fastest.

More cars started setting times; Minardi's Jos Verstappen was a creditable sixth, Rubens Barrichello fifth and BAR's Jacques Villeneuve rounding off the top ten in the first 15 minutes. Ralf improved to sixth, Coulthard to eighth and da Matta to ninth. Giancarlo Fisichella was just outside the top ten for Jordan, and the Renaults were yet to appear with 25 minutes gone.

Barrichello improved to second and when the Renaults did make an appearance they immediately made their mark. Trulli took the top spot with a 1:22.905 -- the first into the 1:22 bracket -- and Fernando Alonso was third fastest, three tenths down on his teammate and less than a tenth behind Barrichello.

Ralf moved up to fourth again and teammate Montoya replaced Trulli with a fastest of 1:22.592, three tenths quicker. Into the last twenty minutes Raikkonen improved to sixth and Coulthard to ninth although the top ten runners remained fairly constant throughout. Da Matta hovered round the edge, as did Heinz-Harald Frentzen and the BARs, Wilson and Heidfeld slipping down the order.

Trulli improved his time to just seven-hundredths off Montoya and was then replaced by Barrichello, the Ferrari narrowing the gap to the Colombian by 0.002. Ralf regained his favourite fourth quickest and Button took tenth from Coulthard. Fisichella was languishing at the bottom of the times in nineteenth as Minardi's Nicolas Kiesa hadn't made an appearance with five minutes to go. Both Fisichella and Kiesa had problems in the earlier private test session.

Da Matta jumped up to fourth fastest, just one tenth off the pace of the front runners and teammate Panis went the whole hog, taking the top of the times with a 1:21.770 -- the only one into the 1:21s. Trulli retaliated but couldn't match the Toyota, going second, nearly seven tenths off the Frenchman. Coulthard and Michael squabbled over seventh and while they were busy, Webber took sixth.

While Panis topping the times is not exactly usual, the session itself was not out of the ordinary for the first practice of the weekend. Toyota tends to show strong on a Friday, as do Renault and Jaguar, while Williams, McLaren and Ferrari muddle about. This afternoon's first qualifying should give a better picture of where everyone stands. Final top eight classification: Panis, Trulli, Montoya, Barrichello, da Matta, Webber, R. Schumacher, Coulthard.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan