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It's Michael, but it's close on day one 23 Jul 2004

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, 22 July 2004 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/19.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 23 July 2004 Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 23 July 2004 Timo Glock (GER) Jordan Ford EJ14.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 23 July 2004 Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 23 July 2004

In track temperatures that exceeded 50 degrees Celsius, Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2003 pole time of 1m 14.917s pole time and Michael Schumacher’s outright pole record of 1m 14.389s from 2002 resisted attack, but fittingly it was Schumacher who got the closest with 1m 15.001s.

In doing so, however, the champion appeared to be taking it right on the edge, as Kimi Raikkonen and Montoya pushed him hard. The Finn lapped his McLaren in 1m 15.045s, the Colombian his Williams in 1m 15.167s. The Michelin runners were very happy with the high temperatures, and with the performance of their tyres, but so too were the Ferrari drivers with their Bridgestones.

Jenson Button finished the day fourth, but ended it badly as he rolled to a halt just past the pits with a broken Honda V10. He had lapped in 1m 15.379s, but will now of course lose 10 grid places tomorrow however much faster he goes. That made it a double disappointment for BAR, after Anthony Davidson’s gearbox failure this morning. This afternoon the Hemel Hempstead driver was sixth fastest in 1m 15.576s, just ahead of team mate Takuma Sato, on 1m 15.657s.

Right behind Button was Antonio Pizzonia, who made the most of his new chance with Williams to lap in 1m 15.470s, which initially left him second quickest. He had a spin in the hairpin, while Montoya had several off-track excursions.

Fernando Alonso sprang up to eighth place with 1m 15.677s after his low profile morning for Renault, while Rubens Barrichello was kept down to ninth place on 1m 15.738s by braking problems in his Ferrari.

Ricardo Zonta was 10th on 1m 16.200s in the old-spec Toyota, but in their TF104Bs team mates Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis were only 18th and 19th on 1m 17.300s and 1m 17.419s respectively as they honed the configuration.

David Coulthard had two spins and some other adventures on his way to 11th place in a McLaren whose balance did not meet his requirements. He lapped in 1m 16.265s. Bjorn Wirdheim was next in 1m 16.342s with Jaguar team leader Mark Webber right behind on 1m 16.514s. This morning’s problems for the team stemmed from cracks in part of the brake ducts on their latest aero package, so all three cars were reverted to their original duct specification for the session. With Jarno Trulli lapping in 1m 16.660s for Renault in 14th place, Christian Klien put the third Jaguar 15th with 1m 16.854s.

Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella were 16th and 17th for Sauber on 1m 16.685s and 1m 17.026s respectively as they focused on race set-up, then after the Toyotas Timo Glock was the fastest Jordan driver on 1m 17.724s ahead of team-mate Giorgio Pantano on 1m 17.869s. Zsolt Baumgartner eventually pushed ahead to 1m 18.098s to supplant Bas Leinders as the leading Minardi driver on 1m 18.224s, while Gianmaria Bruni brought up the rear on 1m 18.309s, behind a troubled Nick Heidfeld on 1m 18.243s.

What happens tomorrow will depend very much on whether the predicted storms arrive this evening.