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Friday free practice review 18 Jul 2003

David Coulthard (GBR) McLaren has a drink.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, 18 July 2003

Fernando Alonso was the fastest man in practice this morning at Silverstone - until David Coulthard and Mark Webber beat him literally in the last minute.

Fresh from private testing earlier in the morning, Alonso set the initial pace, the Spaniard quickly finding almost a second over his morning time of 1m 21.547s. Other quick times came from Olivier Panis, Rubens Barrichello, Jarno Trulli and the Schumacher brothers, Ralf heading Michael.

That was pretty much how it stayed for the first half hour, until Kimi Raikkonen vaulted ahead of the Schumachers into fifth place.

Conditions throughout were good, with the clouds breaking up to reveal blue sky over Silverstone.

The first incident came just after the halfway mark when, having jumped up to ninth place on 1m 22.135s, Ralph Firman slid momentarily off the road at Priory and bounced his Jordan over the gravel. He would not improve subsequently and end the morning in 17th place.

Things began to warm up after 25 minutes, as first Ralf Schumacher and then David Coulthard pushed ahead into second place, to be displaced in turn by Barrichello.

With 10 minutes to go the top 10 order was Alonso, who improved his time to 1m 20.485s, Barrichello, Panis, Trulli, Jenson Button (with the fastest sector 1 time), Michael Schumacher, Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Cristiano da Matta and Kimi Raikkonen. But then Barrichello stopped beyond Copse after his engine blew as he crossed the start/finish line.

Right in the dying minute Coulthard blasted his McLaren round in 1m 20.039s to displace Alonso, and Webber got the Jaguar round in 1m 20.346s, jumping up from 18th.

Alonso thus finished third, ahead of Barrichello on 1m 20.604s, Panis 1m 20.693s, Trulli (who spun at Abbey trying to better 1m 20.858s), and Button, 1m 20.933s. Like Webber, Antonio Pizzonia was a late improver, to 1m 20.966s to put both Jaguars in the top 10, which was rounded out by M Schumacher on 1m 20.992s and da Matta on 1m 21.027s.

With the two Williams only 11th and 12th - Ralf Schumacher on 1m 21.029s and Montoya on 1m 21.182s - one should not read too much into the times. Both were focusing on runs with a fair amount of fuel aboard, as was the world champion.

Jacques Villeneuve was 13th on 1m 21.246s, ahead of an unhappy Raikkonen who did not better 1m 21.407s. Right behind him was Heinz-Harald Frentzen's Sauber after a late improvement by the German to 1m 21.969s. Team mate Nick Heidfeld had a miserable time chasing balance and was only 19th on 1m 23.290s. Separating them were Giancarlo Fisichella (1m 22.028s) and Firman. Jos Verstappen was in ebullient form for Minardi, as a lap of 1m 23.176s attested, but Justin Wilson was unhappy with the set-up of his PS03 and didn't better 1m 24.086s.

With apparently stable weather conditions at present, qualifying this afternoon will give a more accurate reflection of the relative performance of all the cars, particularly those from the top four teams.

For the practice times in full, please click here.