Zonta Fastest in Practice 1 - Bahrain

Ferrari showed they could be back in the mix in this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix when Michael Schumacher put his Ferrari F2005 in second place in Friday first practice at the desert circuit

The world champion did not come out of the garage until seconds before the end of the session but he was still able to finish 0.671 seconds behind the session leading Toyota test driver Ricardo Zonta.

Zonta set a time of 1:31.449 to put himself on top as his two teammates Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli, as well as the two Renault drivers Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella and BAR-Honda's Takuma Sato, failed to complete a lap.

Red Bull test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi finished third fastest as temperatures soared to 37 degrees and McLaren test driver Alex Wurz, drafted in at the last minute after Pedro de la Rosa moved to the race team, finished fourth.

Rubens Barrichello put the second Ferrari into the top five and de la Rosa finished sixth with Mark Webber seventh for Williams and Kimi Raikkonen eighth in the third McLaren.

Jenson Button finished ninth for BAR-Honda, who failed to get a car to the finish in either of the first two races, and Nick Heidfeld completed the top ten in the second Williams.

Wurz turned his first laps in McLaren's 2005 machine after being brought in to replace regular Friday tester Pedro de la Rosa, who will replace the injured Juan Pablo Montoya this weekend.

But the former Benetton driver, who has had to have the McLaren modified so he can fit in his large frame, did not last long on and ground to a halt at the side of the track at turn two but was able to come out again later.

With 20 minutes gone it was Toyota's Zonta on top of the times with a lap of 1:34.741 and he remained ahead as first Webber slotted into second almost three tenths behind and then Heidfeld put his Williams into third.

With ten minutes to go only 10 of the 24 drivers had set a competitive lap time as teams chose to stay in the shade of their garages and limit their running to preserve engines for the race itself.

Liuzzi moved in front of the lead Toyota to set the fastest time by more than 1.6 seconds as the session headed towards a climax and Zonta then bettered the time by more than half a second to move back on top.

Barrichello was the first of the two Ferrari drivers to set a competitive time but left it until two minutes of the session remained to do so as the team played it cautiously to maximise reliability.

His first flying lap of 1:35.142 put him down in 11th place some 3.693 seconds off the lead pace while at the opposite end of the teams Christijan Albers spun twice in his Minardi.

Ferrari looked to be keeping the potential of their new car under wraps for later in the weekend but Schumacher still managed to show what it can do when he went second late in the session.

Pos  Driver        Team                  Time                  Laps
 1.  Zonta         Toyota            (M)  1:31.449             21
 2.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari           (B)  1:32.120  +   0.671   5
 3.  Liuzzi        Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:32.509  +   1.060  17
 4.  Wurz          McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:33.106  +   1.657  13
 5.  Barrichello   Ferrari           (B)  1:33.111  +   1.662   5
 6.  de la Rosa    McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:33.270  +   1.821   9
 7.  Webber        Williams-BMW      (M)  1:33.427  +   1.978   8
 8.  Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:33.836  +   2.387   5
 9.  Button        BAR-Honda         (M)  1:34.002  +   2.553   5
10.  Heidfeld      Williams-BMW      (M)  1:34.722  +   3.273   4
11.  Klien         Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:34.722  +   3.273   8
12.  Massa         Sauber-Petronas   (M)  1:34.875  +   3.426   6
13.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:34.984  +   3.535   8
14.  Doornbos      Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:35.432  +   3.983  23
15.  Karthikeyan   Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:35.766  +   4.317  14
16.  Monteiro      Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:36.534  +   5.085  18
17.  Villeneuve    Sauber-Petronas   (M)  1:37.112  +   5.663   8
18.  Albers        Minardi-Cosworth  (B)  1:37.778  +   6.329  15
19.  Friesacher    Minardi-Cosworth  (B)  1:38.603  +   7.154  16
20.  Sato          BAR-Honda         (M)  No Time               2
21.  Fisichella    Renault           (M)  No Time               2
22.  Alonso        Renault           (M)  No Time               2
23.  Trulli        Toyota            (M)  No Time               1
24.  R.Schumacher  Toyota            (M)  No Time               1 All timing unofficial

Previous article Analysis: Too Tall a Story for Wurz
Next article Exclusive: FIA Set for Major Overhaul