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Ferrari dominate opening practice 10 Sep 2004

Ferrari F2004 gearbox detail.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2004 BAR Honda 006 nose of Anthony Davidson (GBR) BAR Honda 006.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2004 Renault mechanics push a car down the pitlane.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2004 Olivier Panis (FRA) Toyota with his wife.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2004 BBS wheels and Brembo brakes.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2004

Champions start as they mean to go on at Monza

To nobody’s surprise, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello set the pace for Ferrari in practice this morning, lapping Monza in 1m 20.526s and 1m 20.861s respectively. In his newly livered BAR, however, Anthony Davidson was close with a lap of 1m 20.902s.

It was the Englishman who set the initial pace, as many of the top teams elected to run late in the session. Monza is notoriously hard on engines, so the third drivers played a key role for much of the time as teams preferred to save their equipment.

The McLarens and the other two BARs only appeared for flying laps with 10 minutes to go. But that didn’t stop Spa winner Kimi Raikkonen from setting the fourth fastest time with 1m 21.637s. That put him ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Renault on 1m 21.778s and partner Jarno Trulli on 1m 22.052s, until Jenson Button’s 1m 21.904s separated the blue and yellow cars.

Bjorn Wirdheim jumped up to eighth place near the end with a lap of 1m 22.065s for Jaguar, and the Williams of Antonio Pizzonia and Juan Pablo Montoya filled out the top 10 with 1m 22.159s and 1m 22.232s.

Takuma Sato also came out late, and lapped in 1m 22.245s, which was fractionally quicker than David Coulthard (1m 22.248s) and Felipe Massa (1m 22.259s). Giancarlo Fisichella wasn’t far off his Sauber team mate, with 1m 22.460s, and the Toyotas were in there too. Olivier Panis was the fastest with 1m 22.487s, but Ricardo Zonta and Ryan Briscoe were right with him on 1m 22.607s and 1m 22.815s respectively.

Mark Webber and Christian Klien also came out late, the Australian recording a lap of 1m 23.071s, the Austrian 1m 23.723s. This left them 18th and 21st. Timo Glock was the leading Jordanite on 1m 23.333s, with Bas Leinders running well for Minardi for a 1m 23.696s lap. Nick Heidfeld was 22nd on 1m 24.000s, with Giorgio Pantano close behind on 1m 24.412s. Finally, Gianmaria Bruni shaded Minardi team mate Zsolt Baumgartner on home ground, 1m 26.062s to 1m 26.161s.

It was a relatively uneventful session, with Davidson running wide in Turn 7 and Schumacher putting a wheel in the dirt exiting the second Lesmo one lap, but the rest of the action centred on Glock, Leinders, Webber, Fisichella, Wirdheim, Raikkonen and Pizzonia all missing the first chicane after braking too late.