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Thursday free practice review - Monaco 29 May 2003

Mark Webber (AUS) Jaguar Cosworth R4 in the cramped pit lane.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 29 May 2003

Mark Webber and Jenson Button staged a late duel for fastest time here in Monte Carlo as free practice came to a close and it was the Jaguar driver who eventually emerged on top.

Earlier Jordan's Giancarlo Fisichella had made best use of his two hours' running in private practice to record fastest time, before first Jarno Trulli and then Renault team mate Fernando Alonso went fastest.

David Coulthard was the first man to go to the top who had not run earlier in the day, and the Scotsman was very happy with his 1m 16.505s lap for McLaren. "The car felt good and it was easy to get into the groove quite quickly," he said.

Team mate Kimi Raikkonen was not as quick today, settling for ninth fastest time with 1m 17.218s.

While Button was stitching together a great lap for BAR, which ultimately stopped the clocks in 1m 16.476s, Webber was on a quicker one for Jaguar that bumped the Englishman down a place as the Australian recorded 1m 16.373s.

"The car was really good today and feels really well suited to the track," Webber said with a broad smile.

Behind them, Alonso worked down to 1m 16.578s and Trulli to 1m 16.800s, underlining the expected high performance from Michelin, though Button's time clearly showed Bridgestone's potential, too.

As for the Ferraris, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello concentrated on set-up work all morning, and ended up sixth and 10th respectively. The world champion did a 1m 16.915s, the Brazilian 1m 17.372s, almost a second off Webber.

Juan Pablo Montoya likewise refrained from all-out runs but was a satisfied with eighth for Williams with 1m 17.173s, compared to team mate Ralf Schumacher's 1m 18.039s.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen was an encouraging 11th for Sauber, ahead of BAR's Jacques Villeneuve, Toyota's Olivier Panis and Antonio Pizzonia in the second Jaguar.

There were few dramas. Jos Verstappen, Montoya, Pizzonia, Ralph Firman and Justin Wilson all went off course at various points, but were able to regain the track without sustaining damage to their cars.

The drivers put the morning's quick times down to the revisions to the Rascasse corner, where the entry is now quicker and smoother.