Practice 1: Ferraris on top after fog delay

Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher headed the times at Spa-Francorchamps in a truncated first practice session that was delayed for a full hour because of heavy fog

Practice 1: Ferraris on top after fog delay

The mist prevented the Formula 1 medical helicopter from being able to take off safely, leaving officials no choice but to delay the start of the session. An hour after practice was due to start, the sun had finally burned through the fog and a shortened session was under way. Instead of 60 minutes, it was reduced to 30.

Half way through, Schumacher's Ferrari jumped to the top of times having been baulked by a McLaren on an earlier lap. He waved his hand in annoyance as he passed the Mercedes-powered car.

On a later lap, Schuey had another incident, this time on his own. The German ran wide on to the grass verge at the fast Pouhon left-hander and came close to what could have been a big accident.

With two minutes of the session left, his Ferrari team-mate Barrichello got into his stride to go 0.03s faster than the world champion. Schumacher put in a flier right at the end, but it wasn't enough and he had to settle for second.

David Coulthard was the best of the rest in third, ahead of Jarno Trulli's Renault and the other McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn had a frightening incident at the flat-out Blanchimont curve. His McLaren just touched the grass on the right of the track before he turned into the left-hander. Whether a car problem had caused the moment or not was unclear, but Raikkonen struggled to hold his line through the corner and must have been relieved to come out the other side still on track.

Eddie Irvine was a promising sixth for Jaguar, while the Williams duo once again failed to shine in a Friday practice session. Ralf Schumacher was only 10th, while his team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya failed to complete a flying lap.

At least he came out on to the circuit, which was more than the Arrows team managed. Enrique Bernoldi is the only driver representing the squad at the moment, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen staying home in Monaco despite being named on the entry list. The ownership negotiations with an American investor are clearly still ongoing and what will pan out for Arrows over the next few days remains unclear right now.

What can be sure is that Frentzen won't be returning to an Arrows cockpit. Will anyone get behind the wheel of an A23 this weekend? Watch this space.

The final word should be left for Toyota's new signing Olivier Panis. The Frenchman, who will switch teams and Japanese manufacturers for 2003, was forced to park his BAR right at the end of the session when his Honda engine let go in a big way at Kemmel.

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Arrows to Miss First Friday Practice

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