De la Rosa Quickest in First Practice

Pedro de la Rosa finished fastest for McLaren in the opening practice session for the San Marino Grand Prix as World Champion Michael Schumacher dropped down the order after setting the early pace for Ferrari

Spaniard de la Rosa, who raced in Bahrain as a replacement for injured Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya but has been dropped down to the third driver role in favour of Alex Wurz this weekend, set a time of 1:21.060.

He proved he is still on the pace early on in the session then blitzed Schumacher's mid-session effort and proved unbeatable for his chasing rivals as the session came to a close.

Toyota test driver Ricardo Zonta finished second fastest, with a time just 0.114 seconds off the pace, while rejuvenated Briton Jenson Button, in his BAR-Honda, finished third 0.745 seconds off the pace.

Schumacher finished fourth, just more than a second off the lead pace, with Christian Klien, who has been dropped to the third driver role for Red Bull this weekend, fifth fastest a further six tenths slower.

Takuma Sato finished sixth fastest in the second BAR with Kimi Raikkonen seventh for McLaren, German Nick Heidfeld eighth for Williams and Alex Wurz, of McLaren, and Mark Webber, of Williams, completing the top ten.

The session began in temperatures of around 14 degrees Celsius, a massive drop compared to 42-degree heat at the last two races in Malaysia and Bahrain, after overnight thunderstorms washed the track.

With 20 minutes gone only four drivers had completed a full lap and McLaren tester de la Rosa was on top of the pile with a time of 1:24.066, almost two seconds ahead of Toyota tester Ricardo Zonta.

Zonta improved to move within 0.8 seconds of de la Rosa then Michael Schumacher went second in his Ferrari on his first flying lap then stepped up the pace to move 1.208 seconds clear at the top on his third run.

De la Rosa then closed the gap slightly then Barrichello moved up to fourth place in the second Ferrari but his time was more than half a second slower than Schumacher's earlier effort.

Raikkonen then went second with a time just one tenth slower than Schumacher then de la Rosa shot to the top by a massive 1.646 seconds and the German could only manage to halve the deficit.

Pos  Driver        Team                  Time                  Laps
 1.  de la Rosa    McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:21.060               17
 2.  Zonta         Toyota            (M)  1:21.174  +    0.114   21
 3.  Button        BAR-Honda         (M)  1:21.805  +    0.745    6
 4.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari           (B)  1:22.085  +    1.025   14
 5.  Klien         Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:22.736  +    1.676   20
 6.  Sato          BAR-Honda         (M)  1:22.945  +    1.885    6
 7.  Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:22.962  +    1.902    5
 8.  Heidfeld      Williams-BMW      (M)  1:23.086  +    2.026    8
 9.  Wurz          McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:23.391  +    2.331    5
10.  Webber        Williams-BMW      (M)  1:23.532  +    2.472    8
11.  Barrichello   Ferrari           (B)  1:23.797  +    2.737   10
12.  Liuzzi        Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:24.052  +    2.992   22
13.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:24.126  +    3.066    8
14.  Massa         Sauber-Petronas   (M)  1:24.175  +    3.115   13
15.  Villeneuve    Sauber-Petronas   (M)  1:24.255  +    3.195    8
16.  Karthikeyan   Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:24.512  +    3.452   18
17.  Monteiro      Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:25.257  +    4.197   16
18.  Doornbos      Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:25.555  +    4.495   26
19.  R.Schumacher  Toyota            (M)  1:26.333  +    5.273    4
20.  Albers        Minardi-Cosworth  (B)  1:27.353  +    6.293   10
21.  Friesacher    Minardi-Cosworth  (B)  1:27.411  +    6.351   13
22.  Fisichella    Renault           (M)  No Time                 2
23.  Alonso        Renault           (M)  No Time                 2
24.  Trulli        Toyota            (M)  No Time                  

All timing unofficial
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