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De la Rosa sets early Imola pace 22 Apr 2005

Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2005

Pedro de la Rosa may not longer be racing for McLaren, but the Spaniard set the fastest time in this morning’s first free practice for the San Marino Grand Prix, hustling his MP4-20 round in 1m 21.060s. That compares with Jenson Button’s 2004 pole time of 1m 19.753s for BAR.

A late run put Ricardo Zonta second for Toyota on 1m 21.174s, while Button himself was third. The Briton came out with only five minutes remaining, and underlined BAR’s confidence here with 1m 21.805s in only six laps. De la Rosa ran 17, Zonta 21.

Michael Schumacher was fourth, doing 14 laps for Ferrari for a best of 1m 22.085s, then there was a gap to Christian Klien, now making the most of his Friday test role for Red Bull, with 1m 22.736s. Takuma Sato, like Button, only came out towards the end, but was sixth on 1m 22.945s.

Kimi Raikkonen is another to watch, doing only five laps for McLaren in which he did a best of 1m 22.962s. Alexander Wurz did a similar number of laps for 1m 23.391s, which left him ninth. Nick Heidfeld separated the two McLarens in his Williams, reporting no problems with his damaged shoulder on his way to 1m 23.086s. Team mate Mark Webber completed the top 10 with 1m 23.532s.

Rubens Barrichello had a slide through the gravel at Villeneuve and later had his fuel filler flap spring open, and ended the morning 11th on 1m 23.797s.

Vitantonio Liuzzi celebrated his first proper Grand Prix with 12th fastest time for Red Bull Racing, his lap of 1m 24.052s narrowly beating team mate David Coulthard’s 1m 24.126s. The Scotsman had one moment, running wide in the final corner.

The Saubers were close to the Red Bulls, and Jacques Villeneuve demonstrated improved form as he shadowed partner Felipe Massa. The Brazilian was 14th with 1m 24.175s, the French-Canadian 15th on 1m 24.255s. Narain Karthikeyan was very close to them for Jordan on 1m 24.512s, with team mates Tiago Monteiro and Robert Doornbos hot on his heels with 1m 25.257s and 1m 25.555s respectively.

Ralf Schumacher only ventured out at the very end, lapping his Toyota in 1m 26.333s.

Christijan Albers won the Minardi race, but only just as he and Patrick Friesacher honed their new PS05s. The Dutchman lapped in 1m 27.353s, the Austrian in 1m 27.411s.

Neither of the Renaults, nor Jarno Trulli, did more than installation laps.