BAR picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Ferrari on Friday at San Marino and posted a one-two at the top of the times at the end of the second practice. Jenson Button and Takuma Sato led from Michael Schumacher, although Sato was just a whisker...
BAR picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Ferrari on Friday at San Marino and posted a one-two at the top of the times at the end of the second practice. Jenson Button and Takuma Sato led from Michael Schumacher, although Sato was just a whisker ahead of the Ferrari, five thousandths quicker. Button's best was 1:20.966, Sato and Schumacher two tenths behind.
The track and air temperature was slightly higher than the first session, in the low to mid twenties. Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella and Jaguar's Mark Webber were first to fight for the top slot, Fisichella posting 1:24.122 with Webber half a second behind. The Sauber was immediately displaced by Ralf Schumacher, the Williams clocking 1:23.659. Fisichella's teammate Felipe Massa quickly followed into second, but BAR third driver Anthony Davidson robbed the pair of them with a 1:22.449.
Kimi Raikkonen put in an early showing, the McLaren taking second fastest and eight tenths off Davidson. Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya, Button and both Toyotas were also in the top ten first off. Sato moved up to eighth as Button improved to second quickest, and the second McLaren of David Coulthard slotted in front of Raikkonen for third.
The Jordans lurked just outside the tope ten and Rubens Barrichello was the first Ferrari out, seventh quickest. Jarno Trulli put Renault on the time sheet in fifth but Michael Schumacher went straight to the top of the times when he made an appearance. A 1:22.132 for the Ferrari, three tenths ahead of Barrichello, who had climbed to second. Renault's Fernando Alonso shaved off a couple of hundredths from Barrichello's time to take the second spot off him.
After the initial activity in the first fifteen minutes, things became quieter. Webber took over the popular second fastest slot, he Alonso and Barrichello separated by mere hundredths, some three tenths down on Michael's fastest. Ralf, who had been shuffled down the order, was on the edge of the top ten, the McLarens demoted to just outside it. There were improvements in the midfield but no startling developments.
Montoya started the next flurry of activity, taking the top with a 1:21.661, maintaining the gap of three tenths to second fastest until Coulthard took it from Michael, lowering it to just over a tenth between the McLaren and Montoya. In reply, Michael clocked 1:21.164, edging out Montoya by half a second. Trulli ousted Montoya by a few hundredths but Michael remained the one to beat. It was Sato who did the deed -- 1:21.159, just five thousandths quicker to take top spot.
Button dropped it down in to the 1:20 bracket, 1:20.966 for just under two tenths up on teammate Sato. After Michael in third, the gap was half a second to Raikkonen in fourth. Everyone outside the top ten at the time was over a second down. There were a few minor time improvements but no positional changes in another lull after the burst of action.
Zonta came to a halt in the third sector in the final ten minutes but aside from a slight shuffle of the back markers the closing stages were quiet. A praiseworthy effort from BAR but in the big scheme of things it's probably a little premature to be getting excited. Button's fastest in this session was still about a second slower than Michael's best of the first practice.
It's not unusual for Ferrari to be quick in the morning on a Friday then back off later, so although it's perhaps worth a raise of the eyebrows that it was BAR on top, today was no big departure from normal. McLaren seemed on the pace in general but it's probably best not to draw any conclusions there. Toyota and Jaguar, who are generally around the top ten on a Friday, were a bit off it down in the midfield. Final top eight classification: Button, Sato, M. Schumacher, Raikkonen, Trulli, Davidson, Montoya, Alonso.