Ferrari sets pace in first Malaysian GP practice

Ferrari set the pace in the first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher leading Rubens Barrichello. Schumacher's best was 1:34.437, with Barrichello nearly a second down on his teammate. Third drivers Anthony Davidson...

Ferrari set the pace in the first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher leading Rubens Barrichello. Schumacher's best was 1:34.437, with Barrichello nearly a second down on his teammate. Third drivers Anthony Davidson and Ricardo Zonta put in a good effort to make third and fourth respectively, Ralf Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen the next on the time sheet.

Most of the field was out within the first five minutes for installation laps, the air temperature around 35 degrees and track temperature another ten degrees higher. BAR third driver Davidson was the first to put a time on the board, 1:41.661 on his fourth lap out. He bought that down to under 1:40 and Toyota's Zonta took over with a 1:39.060.

Zonta also lowered his time, into the 1:38 bracket, and Jordan's Timo Glock joined the time sheet, along with Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner. Ralf Schumacher was the first of the front runners to set a time, 1:36.731 for the Williams. Jaguar's Bjorn Wirdheim and Jordan race driver Giorgio Pantano were putting some laps in and Minardi's Bas Leinders got his first taste of action after gaining his super license.

Fernando Alonso was the next of the big guns to make a move, the Renault slotting in behind Ralf initially over a second down but improving to within four tenths. Toyota's Cristiano Da Matta took fourth on his first timed run and Michael Schumacher strolled to the top of the times with a 1:35.116 on his initial foray against the clock -- over one and a half seconds up on brother Ralf. Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello took second, a second down on Michael.

The second Toyota of Olivier Panis moved into fifth and Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya took third, 1.5 off Michael. Jarno Trulli put his Renault seventh and Nick Heidfeld initially took 11th then moved up to 10th in the Jordan. Zonta and Davidson improved their times, the third drivers staying with the front runners. There was scant track action and with 15 minutes to go there was still no sign of movement from the McLaren, Sauber, Jaguar or BAR race drivers.

Christian Klien finally put his Jaguar 14th on his first timed effort and David Coulthard put the McLaren eighth on his. Klien improved to 11th, Sauber's Felipe Massa made 17th and teammate Giancarlo Fisichella 14th. Kimi Raikkonen had a competitive first flyer to take fourth, looking good for McLaren, although over a second off the Ferraris.

Michael replied with a 1:34.437 to improve his best and Barrichello also improved but stayed second, still nearly a second down on his teammate. Jaguar's Mark Webber took a creditable fifth on his first flyer and Jenson Button put his BAR ninth. Ralf improved slightly and Davidson was a very good third, he and the Toyota of Zonta the best of the rest after the Ferraris.

The first session gave no decisive answers to who had any real advantage as most of the race drivers put in few laps. Ferrari, obviously, appeared strongest -- Davidson was closest, 0.5 down on Barrichello -- but as in Melbourne it was a conservative start in general. Pantano and Baumgartner did the most track work outside the third drivers, 14 laps apiece, Coulthard only four. Final top eight classification: M. Schumacher, Barrichello, Davidson, Zonta, R. Schumacher, Raikkonen, Webber, Montoya.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Jarno Trulli , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Olivier Panis , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Ricardo Zonta , Anthony Davidson , Giorgio Pantano , Fernando Alonso , Felipe Massa , Zsolt Baumgartner , Bjorn Wirdheim , Christian Klien , Timo Glock , Bas Leinders
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan