First qualifying: Ferrari flies

Michael Schumacher was in imperious form in the first qualifying session for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, outpacing Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello by over three-tenths of a second to ensure that he runs last in tomorrow's all-important second session

First qualifying: Ferrari flies

Schumacher lapped his F2003-GA in 1m16.305s, three-tenths under last year's pole position time, although many parts of the circuit have been modified since 2002. Barrichello was faster than Schumacher in the first sector, but lost time over the final corners to set a 1m16.636s lap.

Jenson Button was an impressive third fastest for BAR-Honda, the Briton lapping his car in 1m16.895s, and again he lost most of his time to Schumacher in the final sector of the lap although, ironically, he had a big slide through Sainte Devote. Jarno Trulli led the Renault charge in fourth, although his under-powered R23 was clocked at about 10kph down on Schumacher at the speed trap after the tunnel.

David Coulthard was a solid fifth in his McLaren-Mercedes, just getting the right side of a tenth of second that covered the next three drivers. Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW), the impressive Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan-Ford) and Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW) were next up, with Montoya losing a lot of time with a big slide under braking for the Rascasse.

Mark Webber, who set the pace in the morning's free practice session, was disappointingly slow in his Jaguar. He could only manage the ninth fastest time, but had the handicap of running straight after the session was stopped due to the Petronas-badged Ferrari engine of Heinz-Harald Frentzen's Sauber grenaded itself on the exit of Sainte Devote.

World Championship leader Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) endured an awful lap, suffering a huge slide at the Swimming Pool that he did well to catch. He ended the session in 11th place, behind the Sauber of Nick Heidfeld.

Another fancied runner in trouble was Renault's Fernando Alonso, who looked all at sea with the handling of his R23 that caused major moments at Mirabeau and the exit of Portier. That meant he slumped to 14th, behind Jacques Villeneuve, who had a very wayward lap in his BAR-Honda, and Ralph Firman's Jordan-Ford.

Both Toyotas suffered an awful session, so Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis (a former winner here remember) will be second only on track tomorrow to Frentzen. Both Japanese machines were outqualified by the under-powered Minardi-Cosworths of Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson today, underlining just how woeful the TF103 appears to be around Monaco.

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Ferrari Ahead in First Qualifying - Monaco GP

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