Private testing: Fisichella fastest

Giancarlo Fisichella and Mark Webber traded quickest laps for most of the two-hour session of free practice at A1-Ring for those teams that signed up to limited between-race testing, but the surprise of the session came from the lack of pace shown by the Renault trio

Private testing: Fisichella fastest

The Italian finally topped the session for Jordan, just a tenth quicker than Webber's Jaguar team-mate Antonio Pizzonia, with the Australian eventually ending up third.

Renault, with three cars pounding round throughout the session, did no fewer than 172 laps. Some 64 of those - only seven short of a race distance - were completed by F1 man-of-the-moment Fernando Alonso. All three of the Renault drivers were covered by just 0.06s, with race drivers Trulli and Alonso only marginally quicker than test driver Allan McNish, who also covered almost 60 laps.

It is perhaps significant that at a circuit where the Renault management feared that lack of engine power could hurt them, none of the R23s figured in the top three.

That said, the team does have an improved version of its wide angle V10 at A1-Ring, with engine operations manager Denis Chevrier explaining: "there are improvements related to the injection and lubrication systems and its really a first step forward in the development of the R23.

Given the stop-go nature of the early part of the A1-Ring lap, allied to its relative shortness, the times in Austria tend to be close and, already, the pace-setting free practice times are within 1.7s of Rubens Barrichello's 2002 Ferrari pole position time.

Relatively low temperatures made tyre comparison work difficult and a slippery surface caught out most of the drivers at some stage. Trulli had an excursion at Turn 2, as did Pizzonia, Trulli went off at Turn 3, Alonso fell foul of Turn 8 and Webber spun at the quick Turn 9 final corner, all without damage.

Justin Wilson again did a strong job for Minardi, just half a second shy of Ralph Firman's Jordan time but a similar amount up on team mate Jos Verstappen.

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Fisichella Fastest at Friday Testing - Austrian GP

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