Ralf tops Spanish GP Friday practice

Ralf Schumacher took the fastest time of the Friday practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, the Williams driver setting a best of 1:17.015. Renault casually showed up in the final quarter of an hour, Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso easily ...

Ralf Schumacher took the fastest time of the Friday practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, the Williams driver setting a best of 1:17.015. Renault casually showed up in the final quarter of an hour, Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso easily fighting for the top, while Ferrari was mysteriously low key after all the anticipation.

Bright sunshine greeted the session and the pair of Toyotas was first out to set installation laps. Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya was first to do a flying lap, followed by Kimi Raikkonen. The McLaren driver set a quickest time of 1:19.754 but soon slipped down the order.

The new Ferrari F2300-GA's went out in formation and took over the top of the times, Rubens Barrichello leading Michael Schumacher with a 1:18.630, over a second faster than the McLaren. Jordan's Ralph Firman was third early on behind the Ferraris -- the Bridgestone runners taking the top six in the first half-hour. The Jaguars were the best of the Michelin teams in sixth and seventh.

Sauber made initial good running, both in the top ten half-way through, as did the Jordans, although Williams was a bit off the pace at first. David Coulthard and Raikkonen improved into the top ten but the times were fairly static for a while.

Back markers were the BARs and Minardis, Justin Wilson ahead of the four. Toyota also lagged until Cristiano da Matta shot up to the top of the list with a 1:18.116, probably surprising himself as much as anyone else.

Renault did not even show until the last fifteen minutes when Fernando Alonso appeared, going second fastest on his first effort. Mark Webber improved to fourth then Ralf Schumacher took the top time from da Matta with a 1:17.366, half a second ahead of Alonso.

Going even better, Jarno Trulli took over with a 1:17.351 on his first lap out. Trulli was fastest in private practice this morning and it took him until the last ten minutes of this session to make an appearance.

There was a lot of activity at the end, the Michelin runners coming into play. Juan Pablo Montoya was up to fourth, Olivier Panis third while Jenson Button was the best Bridgestone car in eighth. Alonso took the top from his team-mate with 1:17.184, quickly followed by Ralf shaving off a tenth and Trulli going second.

An impressive performance from Renault, Alonso and Trulli hardly breaking a sweat to haggle over the top times in their brief running. Toyota also looked good while Williams was much improved in the latter half of the session.

Michelin ended up with the top seven slots, Button the only Bridgestone runner in the top ten. Barrichello and Michael finished tenth and fifteenth respectively -- is the F2003-GA just lulling everyone into a false sense of security? Final top eight classification: R. Schumacher, Trulli, Alonso, Coulthard, Panis, Montoya, Webber, Button.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan