Private test session review - Austria 16 May 2003
Private practice began today in pleasant ambient conditions, with a sunny morning and crisp air that helped the engines to breathe better and therefore develop maximum power.
Early on Antonio Pizzonia, Mark Webber, and Giancarlo Fisichella all transgressed by going over the white line on the pit lane exit.
After one hour the three Renaults held sway, with Fernando Alonso heading Allan McNish and Jarno Trulli in the low 1m 11s, which compared with Rubens Barrichello's pole position time of 1m 08.082s from 2002.
Then McNish moved ahead with 1m 10.395s before Fisichella put Jordan at the top of the timesheets with 1m 10.324s.That was the signal for a wholesale onslaught on the 1m 10s brackets as Alonso, Trulli and Pizzonia also improved their times.
There were a few minor incidents; Trulli went off the road in Turn 2 early on and later at Turn 3, Webber went off in Turn 1 and later spun on two separate occasions in Turn 9; Pizzonia went off in Turn 2; and Alonso went off the track momentarily in Turn 8. None of the cars sustained any damage.
Webber made amends by setting a fastest time of 1m 10.036s with 20 minutes to go, but that was then eclipsed by Fisichella with 1m 09.892s and Pizzonia with 1m 09.996s. In the dying minute Fisichella further improved his time to 1m 09.781s and Pizzonia clipped down to 1m 09.907s. Trulli was another late improver, demoting Alonso and McNish as he climbed to fourth place with 1m 10.338s.
Justin Wilson starred throughout the session, consistently lapping faster than Minardi team mate Jos Verstappen. Right up until the end of the two hour session he was seventh with 1m 11.380s, only to have Ralph Firman beat him as the Jordan driver worked down to 1m 10.763s on his final lap. Verstappen was another to improve as he took the chequered flag, cutting his lap time to 1m 11.717s.