Imola Day One - F2004 faces its rivals at last 25 Feb 2004
Ferrari ran the F2004 alongside its Williams and McLaren rivals for the first time on Tuesday. In a battle of the Schumacher brothers, it was Ralf who emerged on top, steering his Williams FW26 to the day's fastest time at Imola, less than a tenth of a second faster than Michael.
In recent weeks Ferrari have been busy testing the F2004, but only in isolation. Tuesday was its first outing in a multi-team session, and the new machine, featuring an unusual, airbox-mounted 'mid-wing', out-paced its predecessor, the F2003-GA, which went third fastest in the hands of Rubens Barrichello. Schumacher concentrated on general car development, while Barrichello focused on tyres.
Cold conditions and a mixture of rain and snow hampered progress for all the teams, Ralf Schumacher completed the most laps of any driver present (57). The Williams star worked on mechanical set-up in the morning, but then switched to evaluating wet-weather tyres when the rain set in in the afternoon.
David Coulthard continued McLaren's development programme with the MP4-19, the Scot going fourth fastest behind Barrichello, while the two Toyotas of Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis completed the timesheets.
Testing continues at Imola on Wednesday.
Unofficial Tuesday times from Imola:
1. Ralf Schumacher, Williams (Michelin), 1:21.868
2. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:21.927
3. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (Bridgetone), 1:22.568
4. David Coulthard, McLaren (Michelin), 1:23.220
5. Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:25.581
6. Olivier Panis, Toyota (Michelin), 1:27.000