Schumacher immediately under 2003's pole time
When Michael Schumacher set his fastest time of 1m 21.552s at Hungaroring this morning it was not just under Fernando Alonsos 2003 pole time right away (by a tenth of a second), but also 2.4s quicker than anybody else had gone to that point. It was trademark Schumacher: out, bang in the big lap, and in again. It was, of course, designed to out-psyche the others.
Subsequently team mate Rubens Barrichello posted 1m 21.938s but it took him a few laps to get there, then Anthony Davidson, who as usual had been setting the pace all session until Schumacher came out, dipped into the 21s with 1m 21.951s for BAR.
There had been some token rain this morning, which amounted to nothing more than a few drops, but there is more predicted for the afternoon. As it was, this session ran on a bone dry track, but very dirty and slippery track. Local hero Zsolt Baumgartner (whose Minardi had to be pushed back to the pits), Giancarlo Fisichella (shortly after setting what was at that point the fastest time of 1m 24.198s), Giorgio Pantano, Juan Pablo Montoya, Gianmaria Bruni and Christian Klien all discovered that at various points, Fisichella and Montoya in particular being lucky to avoid contact with tyre walls.
After a brief intervention by the Hungarian cousin of one of the famous Silverstone hares, which ran around on the track for a few moments, the final 10 minutes became a shoot-out with nearly everyone running at once.
The McLarens came out late, and Kimi Raikkonen immediately jumped up to fourth on 1m 23.024s with David Coulthard (sporting a new helmet with saltire now mixed with Coulthard tartan and Scottish lions) right behind once again on 1n 23.100s. Montoyas 1m 24.753s left his long-nosed Williams sixth, ahead of the Toyotas of Olivier Panis (1m 23.827s) and impressive newcomer Ryan Briscoe (1m 24.108s). The top 10 was rounded out by Jarno Trulli (1m 24.124s) and Jenson Button (1m 24.140s), but the next group was very tightly bunched in the order: Fernando Alonso (1m 24.191s), Fisichella (1m 24.198s), Ricardo Zonta (1m 24.226s), Bjorn Wirdheim (1m 24.265s), Pantano (1m 24.353s), Antonio Pizzonia (1m 24.381s), Nick Heidfeld (1m 24.462s), Timo Glock (1m 24.843s) and Takuma Sato (1m 25.071s).
Felipe Massa ended the session with 20th fastest 1m 25.218s for Sauber, ahead of Klien (1m 25.834s), the Minardis of Bas Leinders (1m 26.074s), Baumgartner (1m 28.296s) and Bruni (1m 28.893s) and Mark Webber, who did only four installation laps in his Jaguar without recording a time.
The afternoon session will be more of a guide to form, and as things stand the weather appears quite settled with little sign of rain.