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Last Updated: Friday, 9 July, 2004, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Raikkonen top in practice
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor at Silverstone

Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren
McLaren's hopes have lifted with the new MP4-19B
Kimi Raikkonen has lent weight to the prospect of a McLaren revival in Formula One by setting fastest time in Friday practice at the British GP.

Raikkonen, driving McLaren's new car in its second race, set a best lap of one minute 18.655 seconds to edge Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella by 0.005secs.

Michael Schumacher's Ferrari was third, 0.507secs behind Raikkonen, with David Coulthard and Jenson Button next up.

The second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello was sixth fastest.

Williams stand-in Marc Gene was seventh, followed by the Renault of Jarno Trulli.

Gene's team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya was eighth, ahead of the second Renault of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in the second Sauber.

Fisichella's presence close to the top of the times underlines the fact that Friday practice tends to mean little as a gauge of potential for the race.

And the Italian will not feature at the front after qualifying as he will be penalised 10 grid positions after Sauber were forced to change the engine in his car.

We were expecting rain for the second hour so reversed our programme
Ross Brawn of Ferrari

But Raikkonen's time is nevertheless a boost for McLaren.

The team had had a terrible season until their new MP4-19B car made its debut at the French Grand Prix last weekend.

Its performance was encouraging from the outset, with Coulthard qualifying third, and McLaren are hoping for a further step forward at Silverstone this weekend.

"It is an encouraging start to my home Grand Prix," said Coulthard.

"MP4-19B is an improvement, and I feel that it should be possible to get on the podium, so that has to be the goal."

Ferrari, though, remain the hot favourites to win Sunday's race.

Michael Schumacher is gunning for his 10th win in 11 races this season, and Silverstone should perfectly suit the all-round excellence of his Ferrari.

The circuit layout is full of long, sweeping corners and traditionally suits cars with strong aerodynamics and good handling - qualities the Ferrari epitomises.

And the cool weather plays into the hands of Ferrari's tyre supplier Bridgestone and against Michelin, which supplies all the other top teams.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said: "We were expecting rain for the second hour, so we reversed our usual Friday programme, especially with Michael, who only ran on used tyres in the afternoon.

"Therefore it is harder than usual to make comparisons to the opposition."

The session was relatively incident-free, apart from a scary moment for Jordan test driver Timo Glock, who spun off the track when he lost a wheel through the 168mph Bridge corner.




SEE ALSO
Stewart hits back in GP row
07 Jul 04  |  Formula One
Williams backs London GP
07 Jul 04  |  Formula One
Button relishes home advantage
08 Jul 04  |  Formula One
New threat hits British GP
06 Jul 04  |  Formula One


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