Raikkonen Fastest in First Qualifying - European GP

Finn Kimi Raikkonen beat the weather to set the fastest time in Friday's opening qualifying at the Nurburgring as a deluge of rain drenched the track to cause havoc mid-way through the afternoon session.

Raikkonen Fastest in First Qualifying - European GP

Finn Kimi Raikkonen beat the weather to set the fastest time in Friday's opening qualifying at the Nurburgring as a deluge of rain drenched the track to cause havoc mid-way through the afternoon session.

Raikkonen went out second to World Championship leader Michael Schumacher when the session started under cloudy skies and he beat the German Ferrari driver's time to gain track advantage for Saturday's grid deciding qualifying.

The McLaren-Mercedes driver finished with a time of 1:29.989 compared to Schumacher's 1:30.353 while the Williams-BMW pair of Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher slotted in third and fourth.

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, in the second Ferrari, finished 0.853 seconds behind Raikkonen, half a second slower than teammate Schumacher, while Scot David Coulthard was 0.914 seconds behind Raikkonen in sixth.

Renault drivers Italian Jarno Trulli and Spaniard Fernando Alonso could only manage seventh and eighth fastest times, with Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, of Jordan, ninth and German Heinz-Harald Frentzen tenth in the Sauber.

Jenson Button, the tenth man on track, ruined his lap when he hit a plastic marker post on the entrance to the chicane and damaged his front wing but still finished just three tenths of a second slower than Fisichella.

Rain then began to fall and the first man to be caught out was Australian Mark Webber, of Jaguar, who went on to post the 12th fastest time of the session.

Brazilian Cristiano da Matta spun his Toyota at turn three in the Mercedes Arena and decided to abort his lap without setting a time. Jacques Villeneuve, next on track, spun off at turn three to bring out the red flag.

The session was stopped for six minutes and the track was declared wet, with extreme tyres allowed because of a significant amount of rain that had fallen during the minutes before the stoppage.

Frenchman Olivier Panis was the first driver to run on the soaking track and he set a time of 1:57.327, 27.338 seconds behind the lap Raikkonen had set on a bone-dry but cool circuit.

The rest of the drivers went through the motions, with little hope of achieving anything worthwhile from the session because they had no previous wet running to set their cars up and only three laps to run in the difficult conditions.

Eventually, German Nick Heidfeld, of Sauber, claimed the fastest time of the runners who had to compete on the wet track with a time 22.311 seconds slower than Raikkonen's time in the dry.

Pos Driver Team T1 T2 Time 1. (2) Raikkonen McLaren Mercedes (M) 29.325 66.916 1:29.989 2. (1) M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 29.769 67.225 1:30.353 + 0.364 3. (5) Montoya Williams BMW (M) 29.510 67.344 1:30.378 + 0.389 4. (4) R.Schumacher Williams BMW (M) 29.485 67.378 1:30.522 + 0.533 5. (6) Barrichello Ferrari (B) 29.764 67.593 1:30.842 + 0.853 6. (7) Coulthard McLaren Mercedes (M) 29.633 67.613 1:30.903 + 0.914 7. (8) Trulli Renault (M) 29.675 67.783 1:31.143 + 1.154 8. (3) Alonso Renault (M) 30.089 68.075 1:31.533 + 1.544 9. (9) Fisichella Jordan Ford (B) 30.242 68.716 1:32.196 + 2.207 10. (11) Frentzen Sauber Petronas (B) 29.937 68.460 1:32.201 + 2.212 11. (10) Button BAR Honda (B) 30.201 68.540 1:32.479 + 2.490 12. (12) Webber Jaguar Cosworth (M) 30.979 69.032 1:35.972 + 5.983 13. (16) Heidfeld Sauber Petronas (B) 37.942 84.737 1:52.300 +22.311 14. (17) Firman Jordan Ford (B) 37.797 85.703 1:53.893 +23.904 15. (20) Wilson Minardi Cosworth (B) 38.853 86.550 1:54.546 +24.557 16. (19) Verstappen Minardi Cosworth (B) 39.362 87.583 1:55.921 +25.932 17. (15) Panis Toyota (M) 38.101 88.380 1:57.327 +27.338 18. (18) Pizzonia Jaguar Cosworth (M) 39.374 88.051 1:57.435 +27.446 19. (13) da Matta Toyota (M) - - No Time 20. (14) Villeneuve BAR Honda (B) - - No Time Top Speed: 308.3 (Raikkonen, McLaren-Mercedes) All timing unofficial

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European Grand Prix, first qualifying: Raikkonen rains on Schumacher's parade

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