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Renault, BAR pressure Ferrari in practice 22 May 2004

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Preparations, Monte Carlo, 19 May 2004 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F2004 in the pits.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte Carlo, 22 May 2004 Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber Petronas C23 spun at the Swimming Pool section.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte Carlo, 22 May 2004 Licks of flame from the  Jaguar R5  of Mark Webber (AUS) as he is pushed back in the pits.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte Carlo, 22 May 2004 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/19.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte Carlo, 22 May 2004

Trulli and Sato all but match Schumacher's pace

Less than a hundredth of a second separated the top three in final Monaco practice. Michael Schumacher was fastest in both sessions, but by the end his rivals were snapping at his heels.

In the first the world champion lapped in 1m 15.751s, just ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello’s 1m 15.770s. In the second, Schumacher just pipped Jarno Trulli’s 1m 14.016s with 1m 14.014s, while Takuma Sato was third for BAR on 1m 14.020s.

It was an exciting morning, with both Minardi drivers crashing in the first session. Gianmaria Bruni hit the wall on the exit to casino Square, while shortly afterwards Zsolt Baumgartner followed him at Rascasse. The Hungarian’s car was repaired in time for session two, but Bruni didn’t run again.

In that first session, Sauber’s Felipe Massa performed a neat spin in the Swimming Pool, avoiding everything but flat-spotting his tyres. And Ralf Schumacher had a trip up the escape road at the chicane in his Williams.

When practice resumed Jaguar’s early form (Webber was third in session one behind the Ferraris) evaporated when the Australian’s engine caught fire again. It did not need replacing after its Thursday dramas, but it remains to be seen whether it will need changing now.

Giancarlo Fisichella had a moment at Rascasse in the Sauber, and then Williams’ Juan Pablo Montoya got off line going into the tricky Noghes corner at the end of the lap, and hit the wall head-on. He was unharmed, with only minor damage to the car. And Kimi Raikkonen had a big wobble under braking for the chicane, but got away with it in the McLaren.

Behind the top three, Fernando Alonso got close with 1m 14.138s in the second Renault, followed by Montoya on 1m 14.212s, and the BAR of Jenson Button on 1m 14.646s. David Coulthard also went well for McLaren, with 1m 14.670s for seventh ahead of Ralf Schumacher on 1m 14.752s.

Raikkonen didn’t break 1m 15s, but only just, as he recorded 1m 15.034s, then came Barrichello on 1m 15.174s. Then there was a bit of a gap to Fisichella, who got into the 15s for Sauber with 1m 15.709s. Toyota’s Cristiano da Matta followed with 1m 15.86s.

Christian Klien was on strong form, shadowing Jaguar team leader Webber early in the first session when they were fastest, and finished with 1m 16.101s, ahead of Massa on 1m 16.332s, and Jordan’s Nick Heidfeld on 1m 16.385s. Giorgio Pantano has also been going well, lapping his EJ14 in 1m 16.700s. Webber’s lap of 1m 17.173s was way slower than the 1m 16.273s he did in the first session, and the Australian waits to see whether he will have to lose 10 grid places. Ralf Schumacher, of course, already knows that he will whatever he does this afternoon, after his engine problem on Thursday.