BAR retained its fighting form in the Saturday morning practices for the Spanish Grand Prix, Jenson Button and Takuma Sato topping the times in sessions one and two respectively. Button's best in the first practice was a 1:15.984 and Sato bought...
BAR retained its fighting form in the Saturday morning practices for the Spanish Grand Prix, Jenson Button and Takuma Sato topping the times in sessions one and two respectively. Button's best in the first practice was a 1:15.984 and Sato bought it down to 1:14.836 in session two, the fastest of the weekend so far. Renault and Williams were in the front runners, and Ferrari of course, while McLaren appeared to be in good shape.
Cool and dry conditions greeted the opening session as the cars came out for installation laps but there was little action early on. Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner was the first to set a time after nearly 20 minutes, 1:24.255, then Jordan's Nick Heidfeld took over with a 1:18.949. Christian Klien put in some early laps, making up for his aborted practice yesterday when his Jaguar ended up in a gravel trap.
The second Jordan of Giorgio Pantano moved up to two tenths behind Heidfeld but the early times were some way off being competitive. The Ferraris made an appearance after about half an hour and posted times in the expected area, Michael Schumacher a 1:16.519 and Rubens Barrichello half a second behind. Sauber's Felipe Massa took third fastest but was quickly displaced by Kimi Raikkonen, who's McLaren seemed none the worse for its technical gremlins yesterday.
Ralf Schumacher took over from Michael with a 1:16.233 and the second McLaren of David Coulthard slotted into fifth. Sato was the first BAR out, third fastest, then teammate Button took the top of the times, 1:15.984. Renault's Jarno Trulli went second and both Toyota's were in the top ten. Juan Pablo Montoya put his Williams third and Button remained at the top at the close of the first session. Less than a tenth separated the top three.
Mark Webber led off in the second session, 1:18.263 for the Jaguar, but Renault's Fernando Alonso swiftly topped that with a 1:17.991. Montoya was next up, 1:16.755, with Ralf slotting into second, eight tenths down on his teammate. Michael came out with a 1:16.339 and Button took third but Panis came to a halt in the first sector after only a few laps. Da Matta took eighth, the two Jaguars just in front, and Barrichello slotted into fourth on his first flyer.
Raikkonen posted 1:15.983 to take the top slot, three tenths up on Michael, and McLaren teammate David Coulthard took second -- an unusual sight at the top of the time sheet so far this season! Webber thwarted the pair with a 1:15.895, just eight hundredths up on Raikkonen, then Michael retaliated with a 1:15.025. Button moved into second but was sixth tenths off the Ferrari. Klien put in a good effort to take seventh and Heidfeld to make eighth about half way through.
Montoya had a crack at the top, two tenths off Michael's pace for second fastest. The Renaults were inconspicuous, both Alonso and Trulli pottering in the midfield until Trulli shot up to third heading into the end of the session. Sauber was a bit lacklustre and Minardi's Gianmaria Bruni only managed a six laps. Sato demoted Michael with a 1:14.836, the first into the 1:14 bracket and just under two tenths up.
Alonso improved to sixth and Barrichello climbed to fifth but BAR remained at the top, this time Sato taking the honours. Six tenths separated the first four and the gap widened to over a second to Alonso who had been shuffled down to eighth. Final top eight classification: Sato, M. Schumacher, Montoya, Trulli, Barrichello, Button, Coulthard, Alonso.