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Montoya breaks 73s barrier at Interlagos 22 Oct 2004

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Brazil, 21 October 2004

Under skies brighter than yesterday’s, the first practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix saw Juan Pablo Montoya set the fastest time with 1m 12.547s. This compared with Rubens Barrichello’s 2003 pole position time of 1m 13.114s.

The first half of the session belonged to Anthony Davidson, running a BAR that bore his facial likeness on its engine cover. The Englishman lapped in 1m 15.738s. The man who made the most impression, however, was Dutchman Robert Doornbos, who lapped his Jordan in 1m 15.790s on his first acquaintance with the tricky Interlagos. Ryan Briscoe, who raced here in F3000 in 2002, was right behind them both for Toyota, on 1m 15.855s.

Ralf Schumacher was the first frontrunner to do more than an installation lap, settling in with 1m 15.529s for Williams and then cutting that to 1m 14.601s a lap later. Juan Pablo Montoya soon joined him in second place, on 1m 14.614s.

That led to an explosion of fast laps, with Fernando Alonso, Rubens Barrichello, David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen, Ralf Schumacher and finally Montoya setting the fastest time.

Schumacher Jnr had just gone fastest with the first sub-1m 13s lap, but Montoya immediately beat his 1m 12.873s best, and so did on-form Briscoe, who got his TF104B down to 1m 12.614s to snatch second place.

Behind them, Kimi Raikkonen did only four laps for McLaren, so his 1m 13.150s, which deposed team mate David Coulthard’s 1m 13.277s as the best time, indicates the strength of McLaren’s potential. Right at the end Davidson bounced round in 1m 13.232s to split the silver cars and grab fifth place.

Jarno Trulli had a spin in Turn Eight before posting seventh fastest time of 1m 13.512s, team mate Ricardo Zonta initially showing well but also spinning (in Turn Four) and then recording a 1m 14.207s best for 15th fastest time.

Takuma Sato and Rubens Barrichello were almost inseparable in eighth and ninth places, on 1m 13.839s and 1m 13.855s respectively, and Alonso completed the top 10 with a 1m 13.990s.

Nothing should be read into the lowly positions of Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button (11th and 14th respectively on 1m 14.042s and 1m 14.187s, and they were split by Giancarlo Fisichella, on 1m 14.118s for Sauber and Mark Webber on 1m 14.147s for Jaguar.

After some fast laps early in the session, Felipe Massa wound up 16th for Sauber with 1m 14.479s, ahead of Jacques Villeneuve (1m 14.585s), Doornbos (1m 14.966s after a very strong showing), Bjorn Wirdheim (1m 15.065s), Nick Heidfeld (1m 15.414s), Christian Klien (who spun in Turn 1 before lapping in 1m 15.476s), Zsolt Baumgartner (1m 15.490s), Timo Glock (1m 15.647s) and Gianmaria Bruni (1m 16.406s). Bas Leinders had mechanical problems in his Minardi, and did not record a time.

So, 2003’s pole position is already history, and they are only warming up. This afternoon should be quicker still.