Prac 1: Schuey sets pace

Michael Schumacher began what many expect to be something of a Ferrari benefit at Monza this weekend by going comfortably quickest in the first free practice session for the Italian Grand Prix. Emphasising the world champion teams' dominance, Rubens Barrichello was second fastest, although he was only 0.029s quicker than BAR's test driver Anthony Davidson

Prac 1: Schuey sets pace

The world champion, sporting a special crash helmet design that incorporates the Italian Tricolore, waited a full 40 minutes before taking to the circuit and was immediately quickest when he did so. Setting a time of 1m20.526s he ended the session 0.335s faster than Barrichello.

With the three-day Monza test having taken place less than a week ago, it was perhaps not surprising that the bulk of this morning's running was completed by Friday's test drivers, while the teams kept their race car engine mileage to a minimum. It provided a strong argument for those advocates of an abolition of private testing.

The quickest of the Friday testers, (true to form) was Davidson. The Englishman, his car running with a unique paint scheme that features a rendition of him on the side, was the only driver not in a Ferrari to dip into the 1m20s.

Spa winner Raikkonen was fourth fastest, the Finn's McLaren MP4-19B complete with its new wide-configuration nose that the team evaluated in the test last week. Fernando Alonso's Renault was fifth ahead of Jenson Button who came out right at the end of the session to put in just one timed lap.

Jarno Trulli was seventh quickest in the second Renault while Jaguar's Bjorn Wirdheim was the second-best Friday tester in eighth, having traded times with Davidson and Toyota's Ryan Briscoe when just the testers were on track.

Antonio Pizzonia, still riding high from his confidence-boosting run at Spa and well aware that this is probably his last chance to shine in a race car this year, outpaced his Williams team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya who was 10th. Takuma Sato was the slowest of the BARs in 11th ahead of David Coulthard's McLaren and the two Saubers of Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Olivier Panis, Ricardo Zonta and Ryan Briscoe were line astern in the Toyotas in 15th, 16th and 17th ahead of Jaguar's Mark Webber and Jordan test driver Timo Glock. Bas Leinders, one of three to run dangerously wide at Lesmo 2, thought to have been brought on by the re-painting of the outside kerbs, (the others being Schumacher and Davidson), was 20th.

Austrian Christian Klien, who scored his first points for Jaguar in Spa two weeks ago, was 21st fastest ahead of Jordan's Nick Heidfeld and team-mate Giorgio Pantano. The Minardis of Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner brought up the rear.

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