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Incident and action in opening practice 20 May 2004

The Jaguar R5 of Mark Webber (AUS) is removed from the track when his engine blew. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte Carlo, 20 May 2004 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari pulls a funny face.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Preparations, Monte Carlo, 19 May 2004 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Preparations, Monte Carlo, 19 May 2004 Christian Klien (AUT) Jaguar.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Preparations, Monte Carlo, 19 May 2004 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Preparations, Monte Carlo, 19 May 2004

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher led BAR's Takuma Sato in first practice, after a spectacular engine fire for Mark Webber temporarily halted proceedings around the Monte Carlo street circuit.

For a team that is publicising the new Ocean’s 12 Hollywood blockbuster, Jaguar found themselves unfortunately all at sea in the first practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Things began to go awry halfway through the session when Webber’s car appeared to suffer some sort of engine problem and rolled to a smoking halt just past the chicane. The Australian could be seen gesticulating to the marshals, and leapt from the cockpit to grab a fire extinguisher which he then wielded just as flames spread across the back of the car. The session was red flagged while the stricken machine was craned away.

It is too soon to say whether the Jaguar will require an engine change, which would of course cost Webber 10 critical grid places. Soon after that, team mate Bjorn Wirdheim’s car stopped on the exit to the tunnel, also with mechanical problems.

As expected, Michael Schumacher led the way, lapping his Ferrari in 1m 16.502s. This was comfortably ahead of the challenging BARs of Takuma Sato (1m 17.279s) and Jenson Button (1m 17.339s), but not yet within striking distance of brother Ralf’s 2003 pole position time of 1m 15.259s. Ralf was not anywhere near that either, his Williams stopping on his out lap in Turn 15, with a mechanical problem.

Ricardo Zonta was the fastest Friday man, lapping his Toyota in 1m 17.426s to edge out David Coulthard. The Scot was pleased that his McLaren MP4-19 was good enough for fifth best time of 1m 17.524s.

Renault’s hopes also look good, with Fernando Alonso sixth on 1m 17.686s, and he was chased by Anthony Davidson on 1m 17.791s, the Englishman fully recovered from the nerve he trapped testing in Paul Ricard last week. Jarno Trulli was right with Davidson, on 1m 17.856s, and the top 10 was completed by Juan Pablo Montoya (1m 17.937s) and Kimi Raikkonen (1m 17.952s).

At the time of Webber’s drama Giancarlo Fisichella was fastest, and his subsequent 1m 18.338s remained good enough for an encouraging 11th place ahead of Rubens Barrichello (1m 18.621s). Cristiano da Matta completed the runners in the 1m 18s, with 1m 18.8896s, just ahead of team-mate Olivier Panis on 1m 19.218s.

Webber’s pre-fire 1m 19.261s left him15th, not far ahead of Christian Klien who managed 1m 19.487s. That sandwiched Sauber’s Felipe Massa, on 1m 19.335s, and Giorgio Pantano, regardless of his right knee injury, was the faster Jordan driver, a second behind the Austrian on 1m 20.528s. Unfortunately for Jordan, Pantano stopped at Ste Devote late in the session. Team mate Timo Glock was right behind with 1m 20.534s, but Nick Heidfeld played himself back in with a cautious 1m 21.141s, which was slower than Bjorn Wirdheim’s 1m 20.680s.

At the back, Gianmari Bruni led the Minardis with 1m 21.201s to Zsolt Baumgartner’s 1m 22.203s and Bas Leinders’ 1m 23.361s.

Williams' Ralf Schumacher did not record a flying lap.

Things can be expected to hot up this afternoon, figuratively and literally.