BAR third driver Anthony Davidson set the pace in the first Friday practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix, clocking the fastest time of 1:45.104. The Ferrari duo of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were within half a second but...
BAR third driver Anthony Davidson set the pace in the first Friday practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix, clocking the fastest time of 1:45.104. The Ferrari duo of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were within half a second but Jaguar was the notable performance of the session, with all three cars in the top eight.
Thursday had been wet at Spa but the morning practice session opened dry, although it was cool and partly cloudy. Williams' Antonio Pizzonia started the proceedings with a 1:51.338, this weekend being his first experience of Spa in an F1 car. Teammate Juan Pablo Montoya took over with 1:48.382, nearly three seconds up.
The last time F1 raced at Spa in 2002, Schumacher's pole time was 1:43.726 and expectation is that this year the times would be a few seconds faster. Toyota third driver Ryan Briscoe and Jordan counterpart Timo Glock joined the times but both were some 6 seconds down on Montoya initially.
Jaguar No.3 Bj?rn Wirdheim took second fastest, nearly three seconds down, and Minardi third driver Bas Leinders joined in sixth. Wirdheim improved to within two seconds and teammate Christian Klien took the sixth slot from Leinders. Briscoe moved into second, closing the gap to Montoya to nine tenths.
Davidson took over at the top with a 1:47.437 but was swiftly deposed by Pizzonia's 1:47.083, three tenths ahead. Mark Webber put his Jaguar fourth fastest and Minardi's race driver duo, Zsolt Baumgartner and Gianmaria Bruni, made it eleven cars on the time sheet.
Jordan's Nick Heidfeld joined in ninth quickest and teammate Giorgio Pantano went one better for eighth but the Italian then spun in the first sector and crawled back to the pits. Ricardo Zonta slotted his Toyota into eighth and then improved to fifth, while Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella posted sixth on his first flyer.
The second Sauber of Felipe Massa followed into eighth and Briscoe improved to seventh after being moved down the order. Fernando Alonso was the first Renault out and clocked fifth fastest and Massa stepped up to sixth. Olivier Panis was one place behind Toyota teammate Briscoe at the edge of the top ten while the Jordans held station in front of the Minardis.
Alonso improved to second fastest, a tenth and a half down on Pizzonia, and Schumacher went straight to the top on his first outing, 1:47.005 -- just seven hundredths up after slacking off in the last sector behind Briscoe. The reigning champion immediately had another flyer and improved to 1:45.408, a second and half ahead of Pizzonia.
Massa took another step up to fifth and Jenson Button put his BAR sixth, Jarno Trulli following into seventh in the second Renault. Barrichello slotted in behind teammate Schumacher, seven tenths down, and with twenty minutes to go only the McLarens and BAR's Takuma Sato had yet to set a time.
Klien moved up to 11th, with Webber one place ahead, but Wirdheim was the best of the Jaguars in sixth -- until Webber shot up to fourth. Davidson deposed Schumacher with a 1:45.104, three tenths up, and further down the field Leinders had managed to get his Minardi up among the Jordans.
Briscoe improved to 10th and David Coulthard put McLaren on the timesheet with a first effort of 12th. The Scot climbed to ninth and teammate Kimi Raikkonen finally got on track with less than ten minutes to go. The Finn posted fourth fastest, around 1.5 off Davidson's pace. Sato also took to the circuit for his first flyer and made 19th.
Wirdheim improved to fourth to head the Jaguar trio again and there were movements further down; Fisichella took 11th but immediately lost the position to Sato. Briscoe moved into ninth, heading the Toyotas, and Montoya, who had slid way down the order, improved to 12th.
Klien consolidated Jaguar's position in the top ten with a big improvement to eighth, one place behind Webber. Barrichello bought his time down slightly but stayed third and that was the end of the session. Both Ferraris were within half a second of Davidson but Wirdheim, in fourth, was 1.5 off the BAR.
Jaguar put in a very good showing, while Raikkonen and Alonso in the top ten was no surprise. Briscoe did a good job for 10th and Williams were slightly off the pace, hovering round the edges of the ten fastest. No one is yet below Schumacher's 2002 pole time but there's time yet. Final top eight classification: Davidson, Schumacher, Barrichello, Wirdheim, Raikkonen, Alonso, Webber, Klien.