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Monza testing - Coulthard quick, Ralf crashes 02 Sep 2003

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Austrian Grand Prix, A1-Ring, Austria, 17 May 2003

This week's first day of testing at Monza ended in dramatic fashion when Williams driver Ralf Schumacher crashed heavily near the close of the session.

Schumacher went off the circuit in one of the Lesmo curves. The German driver was taken to the medical centre and then to hospital for precautionary medical checks, but is not thought to have sustained any serious injuries. The cause of the accident is not yet known.

It marked the end of an eventful day for Schumacher. During the morning session part of his car was briefly engulfed in flames after a suspected oil leak. He nevertheless finished second in the timesheets behind McLaren's David Coulthard, who along with Alexander Wurz continued development of the current MP4-17D.

Michael Schumacher, who accompanied his younger brother to hospital in Milan after his accident, was third fastest for Ferrari, around half a second off Coulthard's pace. The World Champion's car was one of three F2003-GAs on track at Monza. Test drivers Felipe Massa and Luca Badoer helped to rack up a total of almost 140 laps for the Italian team, who concentrated on aerodynamic and tyre testing. Meanwhile, at Fiorano, former full-time Ferrari tester Luciano Burti was drafted in to complete a tyre programme using an F2002.

The BARs of Jenson Button and Jacques Villeneuve were fourth and sixth quickest respectively, with test driver Takuma Sato ninth. Like fellow Bridgestone runners Ferrari, the team focussed primarily on tyre and aero work. BAR were also in action at Lurcy Levis in France, where American F3000 driver Townsend Bell got his first taste of Formula One power as he conducted straight-line testing.

Sauber used Tuesday's session to conduct a trouble-free race simulation with a new, more powerful C-spec version of their Petronas V10 engine, which they intend to use at the Italian Grand Prix. It took Heinz-Harald Frentzen to the seventh best time.

Toyota had three cars in action, the quickest of which was Frenchman Olivier Panis in 11th place. Test driver Ricardo Zonta and Cristiano da Matta completed the timesheets behind the lone Jaguar of Justin Wilson.

Renault and Jordan are expected to join the Monza test on Wednesday, the latter having again drafted in Hungarian driver Zsolt Baumgartner to replace the recuperating Ralph Firman.

Unofficial Tuesday times from Monza:

1. David Coulthard, McLaren, 1:22.065
2. Ralf Schumacher, Williams, 1:22.416
3. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 1:22.532
4. Jenson Button, BAR, 1:22.613
5. Alexander Wurz, McLaren, 1:22.630
6. Jacques Villeneuve, BAR, 1:22.647
7. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber, 1:22.651
8. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:22.753
9. Takuma Sato, BAR, 1:23.153
10. Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, 1:23.163
11. Olivier Panis, Toyota, 1:23.164
12. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:23.170
13. Justin Wilson, Jaguar, 1:23.210
14. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota, 1:24.193
15. Cristiano da Matta , Toyota, 1:24.251