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Saturday free practice review - Ferrari closer 02 Aug 2003

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams BMW FW25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Hockenheim, Germany, 2 August 2003

Williams again proved fastest in the two practice sessions held at Hockenheim this morning, with Juan Pablo Montoya setting best time of 1m 15.668s in the first and Ralf Schumacher improving that to 1m 15.387s in the second. However, with Rubens Barrichello second and Michael Schumacher fourth overall, on 1m 15.495s and 1m 16.056s respectively, Ferrari had more cause for optimism than yesterday.

"We made a lot of mechanical changes to the car and managed to make it quicker without losing the consistency in race trim that we had yesterday," technical director Ross Brawn said.

Schumacher, however, ended his morning parked against the tyre wall on the entry to the stadium after suffering a suspected slow puncture in his left rear tyre. His Ferrari was otherwise undamaged.

Montoya lost 25 minutes when his car broke its gearbox input shaft just after the flag fell to end the first session, but in seven laps in the second jumped to third overall.

McLaren had a tough time. Kimi Raikkonen was fifth overall on 1m 16.193s, but David Coulthard threw away a lap that would have been faster still when he spun his MP4/17D on new tyres in the middle of the stadium. At the time he had set the fastest sector two time. The unhappy Scot admitted he had made a mistake, probably after picking up dirt in the preceding corner, and his car was sufficiently badly damaged to oblige him to switch to the spare for qualifying.

Renault looked quietly confident with sixth and seventh places, two thousandths of a second separating Jarno Trulli (1m 16.275s) and Fernando Alonso (1m 16.277s).

Mark Webber continued to shine for Jaguar, setting eighth fastest time with 1m 16.474s, but team mate Justin Wilson was only 17th on 1m 17.766s after concentrating mainly on distance runs for race trim. The British driver reported that his car lost its balance when he switched to new Michelins.

Toyota looked strong with Olivier Panis's 1m 16.560s in the first session which left him ninth, and team mate Cristiano da Matta reported that his TF103's balance was improved over yesterday on his way to 16th best 1m 17.426s. Both drivers evaluated a new rear wing, which may be used in qualifying.

The BARs were as well matched as the Renaults. Jenson Button lapped in 1m 16.954s for 10th place, while Jacques Villeneuve posted 1m 16.957s. Neither had any problems.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen was happy with his Sauber's best of 1m 17.180s and reported further performance improvement since Silverstone, but Nick Heidfeld lamented lack of good balance on his way to 1m 17.345s.

The two Jordans were 15th and 18th, engineer Gary Anderson reporting no problems as they concentrated on race set-up. At the back, Minardi's Jos Verstappen lapped in 1m 19.433s and team mate Nicolas Kiesa in an impressive 1m 19.766s, both in the first session.

In that session the track temperature reached 23 degrees Celsius compared to yesterday afternoon's high of 43, while in the second it peaked at 31. It will, however, be a lot hotter this afternoon.

Among the incidents in the first session, Michael Schumacher ran off and back on the track in Turns One and Two, Ralf Schumacher, Frentzen, Raikkonen (twice), Verstappen and Fisichella all had moments in Turn One, and Turn 12 'claimed' da Matta, Verstappen, Alonso and Heidfeld. Fisichella went off at Turn Nine.

In the second, the champion ran wide three times in Turn One before his eventual demise in the stadium; Kiesa lost it there too, damaging his Minardi; Frentzen, Heidfeld, Raikkonen and Button all ran wide in Turn One, Wilson and Alonso spun in the hairpin, Trulli ran so wide in the final corner that he used the drag race strip on the exit, and Turn Nine 'claimed' da Matta, Verstappen (twice), Villeneuve and Frentzen.

The track also had its own invader, when a pigeon steadfastly watched the action only inches beyond the turn in to the hairpin, refusing to turn a feather as cars approached it at high speed.

NOTE: The above report uses cumulative times (see timesheet below) from Saturday's two practice sessions in order to determine a definitive order.

Cumulative times from Saturday's two practice sessions:

1. Ralf Schumacher - 1.15.387
2. Rubens Barrichello - 1.15.495
3. Juan Pablo Montoya - 1.15.668
4. Michael Schumacher - 1.16.056
5. Kimi Raikkonen - 1.16.193
6. Jarno Trulli - 1.16.275
7. Fernando Alonso - 1.16.277
8. Mark Webber - 1.16.474
9. Olivier Panis - 1.16.560
10. Jenson Button - 1.16.954
11. Jacques Villeneuve - 1.16.957
12. David Coulthard - 1.17.147
13. Heinz-Harald Frentzen - 1.17.180
14. Nick Heidfeld - 1.17.345
15. Giancarlo Fisichella - 1.17.419
16. Cristiano da Matta - 1.17.426
17. Justin Wilson - 1.17.766
18. Ralph Firman - 1.18.293
19. Jos Verstappen - 1.19.433
20. Nicolas Kiesa - 1.19.766

For Saturday practice 1 results click here
For Saturday practice 2 results click here