If you're name was Ralf (or Ralph) and you happened to be driving a Formula One car at the A1-Ring, today was not a good one to be trying to set a qualifying lap.

In one of those rare coincidences that occasionally happen, neither Ralf Schumacher nor Ralph Firman completed their flying Friday lap as they intended - indeed, Schumacher did not complete the lap, full stop!

Chasing the pace set by brother Michael in the new Ferrari F2003-GA, the German made a slight error approaching the third of nine corners at the picturesque Austrian circuit, locked up a wheel and found himself watching the rest of the session from the guard rail.

"During my qualifying lap, the car oversteered going into turn three," the Williams-BMW driver confirmed, "I could not control it and I spun off the track. My first sector time wasn't too bad, but this is irrelevant now. There is nothing else to say, as it was a driver error."

Firman at least had the finish line in his sights when he went off, clouting the barrier on the outside of turn nine with sufficient force that his Jordan-Ford continued on down the track, eventually breaking the timing beam to give a little later than expected. Again, the incident was a mixture of driver error and misfortune, with the British rookie on a lap that looked good enough to possibly pip his tenth-placed team-mate, Giancarlo Fisichella.

"It's a shame," Firman lamented as he walked back to his pit box, "The car felt really good and I was pushing hard - obviously too hard on the final corner.

"As I came through it, I ran a little bit too wide but tried to keep my foot in to get a good lap time. However, I went on the grass and hit the wall. I'm disappointed for myself as I was on a good lap and I also feel sorry that the boys have got a fair bit of work to do repairing the car."

Jordan's director of engineering, Gary Anderson, had some sympathy for Firman, despite the time that will be lost repairing his car for Saturday's practice and qualifying sessions.

"Ralph going off was not a good situation, but he was doing a reasonable lap at the time," the Irishman said, obviously happy with the rookie's general performance, "It looked like he had a bit too much understeer through the last corner, got a bit wide and kept his foot in - which is what you need to do when that happens. He did everything right, but it just didn't recover the way it should have done. I think, without the accident, he would have done a 1min 09.6 or 1min 09.7."

As a result of their misadventures, Schumacher and Firman will now set the pace in Saturday's grid-deciding session, with the German scheduled to be first on track as the Jordan driver was credited with a time.