Free practice 1: DC fastest

David Coulthard (1m36.102s) started his Malaysian Grand Prix weekend in fine style with fastest time in the first timed session of practice at Sepang

Free practice 1: DC fastest

The Melbourne winner produced his lap close to the end of the single one-hour session that precedes Friday qualifying and leaped ahead of the Renaults of Fernando Alonso (1m36.231s) and Jarno Trulli (1m36.372s) who both benefited from the extra running done by the team in early morning free testing.

"With a good deal of organisation we managed to make the most of the test and, as in Australia, I believe we have gained some advantage on our competitors," said Renault's executive director of engineering Pat Symonds.

Fourth and fifth quickest times came from the Williams-BMWs of Juan Pablo Montoya (1m36.998s) and Ralf Schumacher (1m37.045s), making five Michelin-shod cars in the top five at a circuit where the French company had an advantage last year.

Fastest of those running on Bridgestones was Jenson Button's BAR-Honda (1m37.060s) eclipsing Michael Schumacher's Ferrari by 0.02s. Button's team 'mate' Jacques Villeneuve (1m37.357s) was next up, ahead of Rubens Barrichello (1m37.497s) with the second Ferrari and Olivier Panis (1m37.748s) in the quicker of the Toyotas.

Giancarlo Fisichella (1m37.847s) set 11th quickest time for Jordan but team mate Ralph Firman (1m38.516s) had to be content with 16th after he suffered what appeared to be a left-front suspension failure under braking for Turn 15.

The Saubers were 12th and 13th, Nick Heidfeld 0.05s ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen but there was a degree of confusion as to how Frentzen got out onto the track again after the car was returned to the pits by course workers after a faulty electrical connector stranded him at Turn 7. Nobody in the team seemed to be too sure!

Justin Wilson (1m38.695s) suffered a quick spin at Turn 4 halfway through the session and ended up half a second adrift of Jos Verstappen (1m39.183s) as the Minardis propped up the times but were within 0.35s of the best Jaguar time from Antonio Pizzonia (1m38.839s). Mark Webber (1m8.870s) was limited to just three laps after his earlier indiscretion in free testing.

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