Zonta on Top at Monza - Day One

Most Formula One teams returned to work only two days after the Silverstone race to begin their preparations for the upcoming German Grand Prix with a four-day testing session at the Italian Monza track.

Zonta on Top at Monza - Day One

Most Formula One teams returned to work only two days after the Silverstone race to begin their preparations for the upcoming German Grand Prix with a four-day testing session at the Italian Monza track.

The first day was interrupted by the heavy accident suffered by Championship leader Michael Schumacher, who left the test to rest at home.

Test driver Ricardo Zonta set the quickest time of the day for the Jordan team, the Brazilian being the only one present for the Silverstone-based outfit, who continued with their disappointing season at the British Grand Prix, being unable to score any points.

Zonta, who completed a total of 43 laps around the Italian circuit and who suffered a problem with his car's fuel pump which hampered his progress, was little more than a tenth of a second quicker than McLaren's tester Alexander Wurz. The Woking-based team worked with two drivers today, with Briton Darren Turner making another appearance for them. Turner was slowest more than three seconds off the pace.

Spaniard Marc Gene completed a test drivers' top-three, finishing the session right behind Wurz. Despite his shunt, which took place at midday, Michael Schumacher was fourth fastest ahead of brother Ralf, who stopped on track to run over and check the 32-year old was unhurt.

Frenchman Olivier Panis was sixth fastest for the British American Racing team, who will also test at the Valencia circuit starting on Wednesday. Panis edged the first of the Benetton-Renaults, driven by Italian Giancarlo Fisichella.

"We had a useful first day testing at Monza with both race drivers," said Benetton's technical director Mike Gascoyne. "It is the first time this year that we've been able to have a two-car test with the B201 which is another small step forward."

Formula Three star James Courtney made an impressive debut at the wheel of a Formula One car today, the young Australian finishing in a promising eighth place with the only Jaguar present at Monza. Courtney, who currently lies in third place in the British Formula Three Championship, finished the day ahead of Benetton's Jenson Button and the McLaren of Turner.

"We had a slight problem with the front of the car, which made the handling deteriorate, but we've got that sorted out," said Courtney in the morning. "I'm looking forward to going out, the car's amazing."

Testing at Monza will resume on Wednesday.

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