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Raikkonen fastest on wet Melbourne track

March 05, 2005 10:17 IST

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen lapped fastest on Saturday in a wet final practice session for Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Heavy overnight rain and early morning drizzle made conditions tricky at the Albert Park circuit as McLaren and Renault, the two teams who have looked the most impressive in pre-season testing, set the pace.

Raikkonen, who gave McLaren their sole win of 2004 in Belgium, did 11 laps in the day's second session with a best time of one minute 27.297 seconds on a drying track.

Spaniard Fernando Alonso was second fastest for Renault, 0.112 slower, with McLaren's Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya third fastest.

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Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, moving to Renault from Sauber, completed the top four ahead of Briton Jenson Button in a BAR, Australian Mark Webber in a Williams and Ferrari's seven times world champion Michael Schumacher.

First qualifying followed later with the decisive second session to be held on Sunday, when pole position will be decided by aggregate times.

Narain Karthikeyan, India's first Formula One driver, went off 20 minutes into the final session and was stranded on the grass with his Jordan's wheels spinning uselessly before marshals intervened.

Minardi made their first appearance of the grand prix weekend after stewards banned them on Friday for attempting to run with 2004 cars that did not conform to the new aerodynamic regulations.

The team modified the cars overnight and dropped legal action they had started on Friday.

Both Dutch driver Christijan Albers and Austrian Patrick Friesacher skidded off during the first session.

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