Ferrari opens proceedings at Australian GP

Ferrari opens proceedings at Australian GP

It was a Ferrari one-two punch for the first Friday practice session of the Australian Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher led Rubens Barrichello, the duo only completing 13 laps between them. Schumacher clocked 1:25.127, needing just four laps to set...

It was a Ferrari one-two punch for the first Friday practice session of the Australian Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher led Rubens Barrichello, the duo only completing 13 laps between them. Schumacher clocked 1:25.127, needing just four laps to set the best time with Barrichello just over two tenths behind. Renault's Jarno Trulli completed the top three, nearly two seconds off the pace of the two Ferraris.

Michael Schumacher.
Photo by Dario Bonazza.

Jordan and BAR were first out on track, leading most of the pack for installation laps under cloudy skies. Twenty-four drivers took part in the session. For the six teams that are permitted a third driver on Friday sessions this year, Jordan fielded Timo Glock, Anthony Davidson for BAR, Jaguar had Bjorn Wirdheim and Ricardo Zonta for Toyota.

Minardi's Bas Leinders was absent -- unable to gain his super license he headed back to Europe to complete the 300km of necessary testing. Sauber does not intend to run its third driver, Neel Jani, at all the races.

After 15 minutes Zonta set the first reasonable time, 1:30.945, Davidson slotted into second. Zonta continued to improve with Jordan's Giorgio Pantano and Glock also posting times. Davidson took over at the top and Wirdheim joined the flying laps as Zonta, by over one second, demoted Davidson. Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner made six drivers on track with times.

Those six continued to squabble amongst themselves for another 15 minutes, Davidson retaking the top slot with a time of 1:29.276, half a second up on Zonta. Fernando Alonso was the first of the front runners to join in, the Renault man clocked 1:28.862 on his first flyer, only to be immediately displaced by Michael Schumacher's 1:25.127.

Ralf Schumacher went third quickest, the Williams two and a half seconds off the Ferrari, although both he and Alonso improved slightly. Rubens Barrichello put his Ferrari fourth on his first timed run, while Gianmaria Bruni joined Minardi teammate Baumgartner to round off the top ten.

Olivier Panis was the first of the Toyotas on the time sheet at seventh, teammate Cristiano da Matta was 11th. Juan Pablo Montoya slotted into fifth behind Ralf as Barrichello moved up to second, seven tenths off Michael's best time. The Toyota duo moved into the top eight and Nick Heidfeld put his Jordan 11th.

Renault's Jarno Trulli took sixth on his first flyer then moved up to third ahead of teammate Alonso. Giancarlo Fisichella put Sauber in the action in eighth, while the BAR, McLaren and Jaguar drivers loitered in the garages. With just five minutes to go, they finally made the effort.

Christian Klien went 16th fastest for Jaguar and Jenson Button and Takuma Sato eighth and 14th respectively for BAR when they took to the track. Button moved up a place while Mark Webber put the second Jaguar 18th. Kimi Raikkonen made McLaren's first appearance and took eighth, followed by teammate David Coulthard into 12th, then fourth. The second Sauber of Felipe Massa failed to set a time due to a fuel pressure problem.

The usual final few minutes activity saw Button and Webber improve but no one could better Michael's time, Barrichello improved to within three tenths of his teammate.

A very conservative start, as drivers aimed to save engines due to the new rules. It was still the usual suspects at the front and no remarkable performances elsewhere, although with so few laps completed it is difficult to draw conclusions. Davidson's 25 laps were the most by one driver in the session and outside of test drivers, only Pantano dared to brave eighteen.

The Ferrari pair were on top for Bridgestone but it was a long way down the times to Fisichella in 15th for the next Bridgestone clad car. Final top eight classification: M. Schumacher, Barrichello, Trulli, Coulthard, Alonso, Montoya, R. Schumacher and Button.

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