Practice 1: Schuey shines in the rain

The opening free practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos was dominated by the weather, as heavy rain affected the one-hour session. Ferrari's Michael Schumacher was fastest, ahead of McLaren's David Coulthard and Jenson Button of BAR

Practice 1: Schuey shines in the rain

The session was interrupted by a red flag when Antonio Pizzonia did a pretty good job of wrecking his Jaguar R4 on the exit of Curva do Sol on his first flying lap. The Brazilian, who was second fastest in private testing, slammed the barriers on the inside of the circuit, adjacent to the pit lane exit, and then careered across the track to hit the wall on the other side too, wiping both front and rear right-side corners off the car.

Conditions were tricky from the off, proved when the first man out, Malaysian GP winner Kimi Raikkonen, spun his McLaren wildly on the entry to Reta Oposta, just missing the barrier on the inside of the track during his lurid double rotation. Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen, the first man to attempt a flying lap, had a big spin of his own at the quick uphill right-hander of turn six.

The track dried as the session progressed, but another downpour after the stoppage rendered the rest of the session academic in terms of setting faster lap times. When the track was at its best, M Schumacher lapped in 1m28.060s, a tenth clear of Coulthard, who was 0.8secs quicker than Button.

Jarno Trulli was fourth fastest for Renault, but has the benefit of dry running from this morning's private test session which he topped. Juan Pablo Montoya was fifth fastest for Williams, ahead of local hero Rubens Barrichello.

The Toyotas of Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta were next up, ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan) and Nick Heidfeld, whose Sauber ground to a halt on the exit of Turn 4 halfway through the session. Four drivers - Raikkonen, Pizzonia, Justin Wilson (Minardi) and Fernando Alonso (Renault) - didn't complete a single flying lap ahead of first qualifying.

The weather forecast for the rest of the weekend is very interesting. Although tomorrow (Saturday) should be fine, more rain storms are predicted for the race on Sunday. This afternoon's qualifying session, however, looks certain to be wet.

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