Practice 1: Coulthard edges rivals

McLaren's David Coulthard set the fastest time (1m08.836s) in the first session of practice at the A1-Ring as one second blanketed the first dozen cars

Practice 1: Coulthard edges rivals

As in this morning's private test session, there was evidence that drivers were still struggling with a slippery surface. Ralf Schumacher (Williams), Justin Wilson (Minardi) and Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) all went straight on at Turn 2, while both Saubers ran wide at the final corner, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen indulging in a quick spin as he tried to sort himself out. Michael Schumacher joined those exploring the outer limits if adhesion at Turn 9 as he put the new Ferrari briefly into the dirt, while brother Ralf had another lurid moment at Turn 8.

The earlier free testing session stood Renault and Jaguar in good stead, with Jarno Trulli just a tenth adrift of the pace-setting McLaren, and Antonio Pizzonia third. That made it three Michelin runners in the top three, with Michael Schumacher quickest of the Bridgestone men in fourth place with the Ferrari F2003-GA, fractionally quicker than Mark Webber.

Fernando Alonso, sixth, did another 24 laps to add to the 64 he did in free testing, with Renault's director of engineering Pat Symonds explaining: "By the end of the free testing session the track conditions had improved and we were able to get some pretty good tyre data. Allan McNish also did some long runs testing one of our possible race tyres."

Renault looks to be in decent shape, even if its power deficit will hurt a bit more in Austria. Jenson Button and Jacques Villeneuve were seventh and ninth respectively for BAR-Honda, sandwiching Nick Heidfeld's Sauber, while Juan Pablo Montoya was tenth with the first of the Williams-BMWs, three slots better off than team Ralf Schumacher.

Rubens Barrichello, the pole position man here last year, was 12th in the second Ferrari, 0.8s down on team mate Michael Schumacher. Even worse off was championship leader Kimi Raikkonen, who could only manage the 14th fastest time, a full 1.183s down on his pace-setting team-mate.

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