Magny-Cours test, day 1: Ralf leads the way

After a disappointing weekend in Monte Carlo, Ralf Schumacher put his Williams-BMW above both Ferraris and a single McLaren at the top of the time sheets on the first day of a French Formula 1 'Super test' at Magny-Cours today (Tuesday)

Magny-Cours test, day 1: Ralf leads the way

Schumacher Jr was forced to retire late on during Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix with electrical problems after team mate Juan Pablo Montoya had already crashed out on the third lap. But the German was the fastest man at Magny-Cours and finished the day 0.29s ahead of McLaren test driver Alex Wurz.

The Williams ace's run at the top may be short-lived however, as brother Michael did not take to the track until late into the afternoon and neither of McLaren's race drivers - David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen - are due to arrive at the nine-team test until Wednesday.

The elder Schumacher had been told he would not be needed at the French circuit until the afternoon, as the new engine parts he was due to be testing were not ready. The reigning world champion did not get behind the wheel until 1600 (local time) and completed only six laps, finishing ninth fastest.

After Eddie Irvine scored Jaguar's maiden podium finish at the weekend, Pedro de la Rosa continued the team's run of form by setting the third fastest time of the day. The Spaniard was carrying out tyre development for Michelin and Irvine was only 0.12s behind his team mate in fifth.

Separating the two Jaguars in fourth place was the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello, who attributed his lack of speed to following a wrong direction on set-up. Despite the smoothness of the French track, a very dusty surface and soaring track temperatures (50 Degrees Celsius) led to very low grip levels.

"This is a peculiar circuit," said Barrichello. "The conditions change a lot and you can get caught out on set-up and I got caught out. I did some tyre work and also electronics, but we still have a lot of work to do."

Despite being delayed by fuel problems, Jordan test driver Ricardo Zonta finished the day sixth, just ahead of the team's race driver Jarno Trulli. Zonta was due to be completing the full three day test as Heinz-Harald Frentzen was not on top form after his 160mph smash in Monaco. Frentzen hit the barriers in the famous Monte Carlo tunnel and hit his head, but could take over from Zonta tomorrow.

The BAR-Hondas of Jacques Villeneuve and test driver Patrick Lemarie finished either side of Schumacher Sr in eighth and 10th places respectively.

Jenson Button managed to set the 11th fastest time in his Benetton, despite blisters on both hands from Sunday's race around the tight and twisty streets of the Principality. The young Brit is thought to have been in quite a lot of pain, but should not have to suffer much longer as the team's power steering system is due to be ready by the European Grand Prix at the Nurburging on June 24.

The Arrows of Enrique Bernoldi and Jos Verstappen propped up the bottom of the time sheets with F1 rookie Bernoldi finishing just ahead of his team mate.


Ralf Schumacher, Williams-BMW M, 1m15.12s, 55 laps
Alex Wurz, McLaren-Mercedes B, 1m15.41s, 88 laps
Pedro de la Rosa, Jaguar M, 1m15.44s, 79 laps
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari B, 1m15.46s, 77 laps
Eddie Irvine, Jaguar M, 1m15.56s, 45 laps
Ricardo Zonta, Jordan-Honda B, 1m16.37s, 59 laps
Jarno Trulli, Jordan-Honda B, 1m16.53s, 75 laps
Jacques Villeneuve, BAR-Honda B, 1m16.59s, 43 laps
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari B, 1m16.69s, 6 laps
Patrick Lemarie, BAR-Honda B, 1m16.86s, 57 laps
Jenson Button, Benetton-Renault M, 1m16.88s, 43 laps
Luciano Burti, Prost-Acer M, 1m16.98s, 52 laps
Enrique Bernoldi, Arrows-AMT B, 1m17.01s, 65 laps
Jos Verstappen, Arrows-AMT B, 1m17.22s, 59 laps
M - Michelin
B - Bridgestone

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Ralf Goes Quickest at Magny Cours - Day One

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