Zonta Fastest in Practice 1 - Malaysia

Toyota test driver Ricardo Zonta finished fastest in Friday's opening practice session for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, as the temperatures rocketed to 33 degrees Celsius in Kuala Lumpur

Zonta Fastest in Practice 1 - Malaysia

Zonta, who only drives on Friday as Toyota's third driver, ran 17 laps of the Sepang circuit as several of the lead contenders limited their running to preserve their engines for the tough race conditions.

The Brazilian driver finished with a time of 1:34.092 to lead second-placed McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa by 1.052 seconds, with Vitantonio Liuzzi third for Red Bull Racing.

World Champion Michael Schumacher completed 13 laps - more than most of the lead race drivers - and finished 1.919 seconds off the pace in fourth, just ahead of fifth-placed Jenson Button, of BAR-Honda.

Giancarlo Fisichella, the winner of the first race of the season in Australia, did not set a time, nor did his Renault teammate Fernando Alonso or session-leader Zonta's teammate Jarno Trulli.

The session began under blue skies littered with small clouds as the threatened rain stayed away but the grandstands were relatively empty as few bared the 33-degree temperatures and 55 percent humidity.

With 12 minutes gone Ricardo Zonta was on top of the times for Toyota but he dropped down when the big-guns came out as de la Rosa put his McLaren top of the times half a second ahead of Schumacher's second-placed Ferrari.

With 15 minutes to go Liuzzi, whose Red Bull team made an impressive points-scoring debut at the last race in Australia, had moved to within 0.009 seconds of de la Rosa's lap time to slot into second ahead of Schumacher.

But by that time only half of the 24 cars had set a competitive lap time as most teams chose to limit their running and preserve their engines for what will be a tough race on both machinery and drivers on Sunday.

The first incident in the session came with nine minutes to go when Indian Narain Karthikeyan spun his Jordan at turn nine then soon after Takuma Sato harmlessly spun his BAR-Honda at turn one.

Zonta resumed his position at the top as the time clocked down after he put in an extremely fast lap that proved unbeatable and ensured his Toyota team would end the session on top.

Pos  Driver        Team                  Time                  Laps
 1.  Zonta         Toyota            (M)  1:34.092               17
 2.  de la Rosa    McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:35.144  +    1.052   15
 3.  Liuzzi        Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:35.691  +    1.599   18
 4.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari           (B)  1:36.011  +    1.919   13
 5.  Button        BAR-Honda         (M)  1:36.513  +    2.421    9
 6.  Heidfeld      Williams-BMW      (M)  1:36.551  +    2.459    7
 7.  Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:36.563  +    2.471    6
 8.  Montoya       McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:36.610  +    2.518    5
 9.  Massa         Sauber-Petronas   (M)  1:36.963  +    2.871    4
10.  Webber        Williams-BMW      (M)  1:36.989  +    2.897    8
11.  R.Schumacher  Toyota            (M)  1:37.168  +    3.076    5
12.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:37.338  +    3.246    8
13.  Sato          BAR-Honda         (M)  1:37.366  +    3.274    9
14.  Klien         Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:37.642  +    3.550    9
15.  Barrichello   Ferrari           (B)  1:37.843  +    3.751    4
16.  Villeneuve    Sauber-Petronas   (M)  1:38.416  +    4.324    8
17.  Monteiro      Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:39.571  +    5.479   18
18.  Doornbos      Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:40.289  +    6.197   20
19.  Karthikeyan   Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:40.375  +    6.283   14
20.  Friesacher    Minardi-Cosworth  (B)  1:43.574  +    9.482   18
21.  Albers        Minardi-Cosworth  (B)  1:43.691  +    9.599   12
22.  Fisichella    Renault           (M)  No Time                 2
23.  Alonso        Renault           (M)  No Time                 2
24.  Trulli        Toyota            (M)  No Time                 2

All timing unofficial

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