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San Marino: Ferraris dominate first session

NEWS STORY
23/04/2005

One man hoping to celebrate St George's day will be Jenson Button, who in 2004 achieved his first, and thus far only, pole position, here at Imola.

A few weeks ago, one would have been thought crazy for daring to suggest that history might repeat itself, but following the recent tests at Barcelona and Paul Ricard, and yesterday's form in free practice, BAR appear to be back on track.

Ahead of today's first free practice session the air temperature is 12 degrees C, while the track temperature is 15 degrees.

The drivers have now made their tyre choice for the remainder of the weekend, a decision that may have already decided the outcome of tomorrow's race.

Then again, we are, once again, told to expect rain tomorrow.

At 09:00, the lights go green, and Tonio Liuzzi blasts out on to the track, closely followed by Narain Karthikeyan, Tiago Monteiro and Christijan Albers, who didn't take part in yesterday's second session as a result of an electrical (wiring) problem.

Liuzzi completes his installation lap and then carries on around to post the benchmark, 1:28.012. However, the McLaren duo of Raikkonen and Wurz is already on track.

Liuzzi returns to his garage, having completed 5 laps, to join the seven drivers who have just completed their installation laps - this clearly says something about Red Bull's faith in its Cosworth powerplant.

Ten minutes into a forty-five minute session and there is nobody on track.

After several minutes of total inactivity, Patrick Friesacher emerges from the Minardi garage in the PS05.

However, attention quickly shifts from the Faenza outfit's car, to the two red machines that emerge from the Ferrari garage, the crowd erupts.

As Coulthard exits the Red Bull pit, teammate Liuzzi lowers the benchmark to 1:26.107, while Barrichello posts 1:26.698.

Next time around the Brazilian improves to 1:24.839, as Coulthard goes third (1:27.069) ahead of Monteiro and Albers.

The Scot improves to 1:25.835, but as we reach the halfway point of the session only 5 drivers have posted times, indeed, only 11 drivers have taken to the track.

Tiago Monteiro, who in all honesty has been a bit of a disappointment thus far this season, goes second, the Portuguese driver posting 1:25.197, just 0.358s off Barrichello's time.

With thirteen minutes remaining Michael Schumacher becomes the sixth driver to post a time, the German immediately going quickest with a 1:21.663, that's 3.17s quicker than his teammate, who was previously the quickest out there.

Next time around the World Champion goes even quicker, posting 1:21.520, as Patrick Friesacher goes seventh, slotting in between Coulthard and Albers.

Thankfully, after what has been another excruciatingly tedious session, Schumacher's time is a signal for some of his rivals to awake from their slumber… Wurz, Villeneuve and Trulli leave their garages.

The Toyota driver goes seventh (25.730) as Villeneuve slots in behind (26.996), meanwhile, Barrichello improves (24.186) and Wurz goes third (24.359).

This is the cue for Button, Heidfeld, Sato and Webber to leave their garages, and not before time.

Barrichello improves again (23.930), but is bumped down to second by Massa who laps the Imola track in 1:23.533, which is still over 2s off Schumacher's time.

Liuzzi goes third, as Trulli, Button and Sato go eleventh, twelfth and fifteenth, respectively.

With three minutes remaining, Ralf and Fisichella are on track.

Heidfeld goes sixth only to be leapfrogged by Raikkonen and Webber who go third and fourth.

The only driver not to make an appearance is Alonso, who only completed 12 laps on Friday.

Barrichello reclaims second from Massa, the Ferrari driver posting 1:22.885, however teammate Schumacher has raised the benchmark (again) with a 1:21.356.

Fisichella goes seventh (24.120), as Sato improves to thirteenth, and Schumacher returns to his garage having gone quickest in the first two sectors - on what would have been a very fast lap.

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