Practice 1: Rubens sets new standard

The Ferraris of Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher were in a class of their own throughout the first F1 practice session to be held on the revised Hockenheim circuit. For most of the session Schumacher looked like celebrating his fifth world title by claiming a place at the head of the times, but in the dying seconds Barrichello found an extra couple of tenths to move ahead of his team-mate.

Practice 1: Rubens sets new standard

The Ferrari duo battled it out, with Barrichello the first to dive under the 1m16s barrier before Schumacher blitzed it with a 1m16.323s lap. Barrichello edged closer with a 1m16.511s near the end of the session, but a last lap flyer of 1m16.248s grabbed him a small slice of glory. Michael also had a spin at the tight hairpin and an overshoot at the first corner as he found the limits of the new layout.

Olivier Panis was a star of the session, and briefly intersected the two Ferraris in the timesheets before slipping back to third. His BAR seemed well poised on the high-to-medium downforce requirement of the new track layout, and he ended the session on a 1m17.482s - a timely reminder of his talent with his drive in question for next year. His team-mate Jacques Villeneuve was 12th fastest, but his car broke down at Turn 2 near the end of the session.

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest on 1m17.564s, but team-mate David Coulthard appeared to be suffering problems and only completed six laps in his Mercedes-powered MP4-17. He ended the session 19th fastest.

The Sauber duo of Nick Heidfeld and Felipe Massa showed excellent form, ending up fifth and seventh respectively, although Heidfeld was complaining of understeer early on. Both Williams drivers spun during the session, with Juan Pablo Montoya sixth fastest and Ralf Schumacher languishing down in 18th.

Jordan's Giancarlo Fisichella showed no after effects of his 32g shunt at Magny-Cours, but did go off on the right hander entering the stadium section near the end of the session which removed one his car's barge boards. He ended the session ninth, a tenth behind impressive team-mate Takuma Sato.

Both Arrows cars ran in a Friday session for the first time since the European Grand Prix at the end of June. Bernoldi's car ground to a halt at the very end of the session, and was only 16th, but Heinz-Harald Frentzen once again underlined the potential of the A23-Cosworth with the 10th fastest time, just ahead of Toyota's Allan McNish.

The Renaults struggled at Hockenheim, with Jarno Trulli 13th and Jenson Button a lowly 17th.

Pedro de la Rosa was another casualty of the session when the Cosworth engine in his Jaguar expired after nine laps. "It's completed ****ed," was the technical description he used before climbing from the stranded R3. His team-mate, Eddie Irvine, was 15th fastest.

Minardi duo Mark Webber and Alex Yoong brought up the rear as expected, with the Malaysian just 0.119s off his Aussie team leader - surely Yoong's best ever performance in a Formula 1 car.

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