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Friday practice review - Ferrari duo on top 12 Sep 2003

(L to R): Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari, Megan Gale (AUS) the face of Vodafone and Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari after the Vodafone Scooter cup.
Vodafone Scooter Cup, Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, 11 September 2003

Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher gave the tifosi just what they wanted in the royal park at Monza this morning, when they took their Ferrari F2003-GAs to first and second fastest times in the first practice session of the Italian Grand Prix weekend.

The Brazilian covered 18 laps, the German 15, for respective times of 1m 21.001s and 1m 21.152s. Rivals expected the red cars to do well here. On a circuit where their acknowledged horsepower is well suited, and grip levels are less critical, the Ferraris looked very comfortable.

Interestingly, from the point of view of the championship, Kimi Raikkonen for McLaren and Juan Pablo Montoya for Williams were third and fourth, on 1m 21.318s and 1m 21.556s. David Coulthard (1m 21.675s) and Cristiano da Matta (1m 21.881s) were right behind them for McLaren and Toyota and Jenson Button's BAR rounded out those under 1m 22s with 1m 21.913s. The Englishman reported himself satisfied with Honda's latest version of its V10 engine.

Fernando Alonso was Renault's top runner on 1m 22.100s, which was good enough for eighth fastest just ahead of Ralf Schumacher's Williams on 1m 22.312s. Jarno Trulli completed the top 10 with 1m 22.335s.

Mark Webber continued to build on his private testing form with 1m 22.368s for Jaguar, but team mate Justin Wilson only improved his earlier time by a tenth and his 1m 22.478s best left him 16th. Webber had a moment when he ran on to the gravel in the Lesmos.

Toyota's Olivier Panis headed the two Saubers on 1m 22.584s. The Swiss cars were running the latest C specification Petronas V10 engine; Nick Heidfeld recorded 1m 22.821s and Heinz-Harald Frentzen 1m 22.929s.

Jacques Villeneuve survived a spin in the second chicane to record 1m 23.151s, while the Jordans and Minardis completed the field. Giancarlo Fisichella struggled to 1m 23.794s and Zsolt Baumgartner to 1m 24.891s. Jos Verstappen did not match his testing time of 1m 23.999s and had to be satisfied with 1m 24.654s. Team mate Nicolas Kiesa posted a best of 1m 26.903s.

Besides Villeneuve's spin, the main action came from people missing the first chicane - Panis and Fisichella - Frentzen running wide in the second Lesmo and Fisichella running wide in Ascari.

Most team principals expect that qualifying will be very close at the top this afternoon.

Click here for the practice results in full.