Barrichello tops wet first French GP practice

Barrichello tops wet first French GP practice

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello clocked the fastest time in the first practice session for the French Grand Prix, but mixed weather conditions saw the time sheet split into two groups. Rain came down with only eight runners on the clock, so the ...

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello clocked the fastest time in the first practice session for the French Grand Prix, but mixed weather conditions saw the time sheet split into two groups. Rain came down with only eight runners on the clock, so the remainder of the drivers were out in wet conditions. Barrichello's best in the dry was 1:15.487.

Rubens Barrichello.
Photo by Michael Kim.

Michael Schumacher was second fastest and Williams' Marc Gen? third. In the 'wet' group, BAR third driver Anthony Davidson was ahead in ninth, some 11 seconds off Barrichello's time with 1:26.552, followed by the pair of Toyota race drivers.

The session began dry, with a track temperature of around 30 degrees as the cars came out for installation laps. Schumacher was an early starter, the Ferrari clocking 1:16.291 for the first time of day within five minutes. He then improved to 1:15.713 on his next lap before heading back to the pits.

Jordan third driver Timo Glock was next to clock a time, over five seconds down on Schumacher, and he was swiftly displaced Barrichello. The Brazilian's first effort was six tenths shy of his teammate. Jordan's Giorgio Pantano slotted into third and Barrichello took the top spot on his next flyer, 1:15.487, two tenths up on Schumacher.

Gen?, who is standing in for the injured Ralf Schumacher this weekend, took third quickest, over three seconds down on the Ferraris. Nick Heidfeld's Jordan and the Minardis of Gianmaria Bruni and third driver Bas Leinders completed the eight runners on the time sheet in the first 15 minutes.

There was a lull in activity after that as it began to rain. The track temperature dropped to around 20 degrees and it was over 10 minutes before another car appeared on the time sheet, Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner in ninth. He immediately lost the position to Davidson -- both their times were nearly half a minute slower than Barrichello.

Toyota third driver Ricardo Zonta took over the popular ninth spot but Juan Pablo Montoya spun and crashed. The Williams was heading into the Imola chicane when it spun into the gravel and then hit the tyre barrier. The car was quite heavily damaged but Montoya was unharmed.

Zonta improved to within 20 seconds of Barrichello, and then 16, but the conditions hampered any real progress. BAR's Takuma Sato clocked 10th when he appeared on the time sheet and Jaguar third driver Bj?rn Wirdheim 11th, making 13 drivers altogether after 40 minutes.

Davidson improved to 10th and Sato immediately took the position back. The pair then squabbled over ninth, Davidson finally ousting Zonta as closest to the rest of the field. Leinders, eighth, had been the last to set a dry time, 1:22.267, and Davidson was 1:30.083. The rain started to clear up with 15 minutes remaining.

Jarno Trulli was the first Renault on the time sheet, 14th, and Jenson Button put his BAR 11th on his first flyer. Button then took the ninth slot, closing the gap to Leinders to around six seconds, and nearly 13 seconds off Barrichello. Jaguar's Christian Klien clocked 15th when he appeared, then improved to 11th. Olivier Panis took over ninth, the Toyota about a second up on Button. Cristiano da Matta put his Toyota 11th on his first effort.

Da Matta then improved to ninth, the wet group's fastest time spot, closing the gap to Leinders to about four seconds and 11 down on Barrichello. Davidson was next to take it, just over a tenth up on the Toyota. At the session's end, 18 of 25 cars had set a time.

The Saubers and McLarens only managed a few laps and did not make the time sheet, Renault's Fernando Alonso and Jaguar's Mark Webber the same. With the mixed conditions it's impossible to draw any conclusions -- Ferrari got out early and beat the rain but the drivers only did 4 laps each. Final top eight classification: Barrichello, M. Schumacher, Gen?, Glock, Pantano, Heidfeld, Bruni, Leinders.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , Olivier Panis , Nick Heidfeld , Ricardo Zonta , Anthony Davidson , Gianmaria Bruni , Giorgio Pantano , Fernando Alonso , Zsolt Baumgartner , Christian Klien , Timo Glock , Bas Leinders , Cristiano da Matta , Michael Kim
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan