There was no change at the top of the time sheet after the second practice session for the Australian Grand Prix, with Honda third driver Anthony Davidson still the quickest man. His best time of 1:26.822 was a second and a half quicker than he...
There was no change at the top of the time sheet after the second practice session for the Australian Grand Prix, with Honda third driver Anthony Davidson still the quickest man. His best time of 1:26.822 was a second and a half quicker than he was in the morning. The third drivers ruled the roost on Friday afternoon, the Williams of Alex Wurz second and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica third.
The track temperature had increased slightly from the morning session, in the mid to high twenties, while the air temperature remained a fairly cool 22 degrees. Super Aguri's Yuji Ide was first to take to the track, followed by Red Bull third driver Robert Doornbos, Davidson, Kubica and MF1's No.3 Markus Winkelhock.
Next to appear were Super Aguri's Takuma Sato, MF1's Tiago Monteiro and Christijan Albers, Toro Rosso's Tonio Liuzzi and Wurz. Davidson got the proceedings under way with a 1:32.123 and Kubica slotted in behind, just two hundredths off. Davidson improved his time to 1:30.058, the gap to Kubica then eight tenths.
Red Bull's David Coulthard and Toro Rosso No.3 Neel Jani joined the track, then Toyota's Ralf Schumacher and the Honda of Jenson Button. Coulthard's first flyer put him second, but over a second off Davidson who had lowered his time to 1:29.543. Kubica was third and Albers fourth, then came Wurz, Liuzzi, Monteiro and Ralf.
Davidson was still putting in the laps, his next a 1:29.316, and Ralf moved up to fourth. He was dropped a place by Toyota teammate Jarno Trulli, then two more as Kubica and Wurz moved up. Rubens Barrichello put his Honda 10th on his first effort and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen went straight to the top on his, 1:29.098.
Coulthard took second, two tenths off, and BMW Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve clocked eight on his first timed lap. Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren arrived in fourth and teammate Raikkonen belted out another quick lap for 1:28.037. Montoya moved up into second, a second off the pace, and Barrichello improved to fifth.
On the edge of the top 10 was Toro Rosso's Scott Speed, then came Kubica and Ralf, after being shuffled down the order, Albers, Jani and Liuzzi. Felipe Massa put his Ferrari eighth on his first quick lap then improved to fifth, and Villeneuve split the two McLarens with second. Renault's Fernando Alonso started with a conservative 10th.
Massa climbed another place to fourth but then Wurz jumped up to third and demoted a couple of cars. Alonso went one better for second, seven hundredths behind Raikkonen. Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault began with a lowly 17th but teammate Alonso was on a flyer and demoted Raikkonen from the top with a 1:27.464, half a second up.
Michael Schumacher's Ferrari took fourth then stayed out to improve to second, two tenths off Alonso. Fisichella moved up to fifth and after the busy first 20 minutes it quietened down a little. Speed climbed from 15th to 10th and Button posted 14th when he finally made the time sheet. Christian Klien's Red Bull followed on into 15th.
Button then jumped up to third and then the top, 1:27.213. Barrichello improved to sixth and Davidson to seventh after being moved down the list to outside the top 10. Montoya did likewise to fifth but then both dropped a place when Villeneuve did the same to take the fifth slot from the McLaren. Barrichello retaliated to demote the BMW.
By half way through only the Williams duo of Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg and the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld had not set a time. Coulthard moved back into the top 10 with sixth but immediately lost the place to Davidson, and Villeneuve slotted in behind for seventh. Massa, who had also been shuffled down the list, went up to 10th.
Wurz improved to third then set fastest sectors all round to take over at the top with a 1:26.832, nearly four tenths up on Button. Massa was keeping busy and climbed to eighth and Liuzzi looked like he was about to improve but the Toro Rosso clipped the barrier in the last sector, which put an end to his afternoon.
Webber finally gave the Aussie crowds a local hero to cheer for when he took to the track with 20 minutes to go, along with teammate Rosberg. Webber inched onto the time sheet in 27th while Rosberg took 20th. Kubica, who had been loitering just outside the top 10, shot up to second, three and a half tenths off Wurz.
Webber made an effort for 17th and Trulli climbed a couple of places to 14th. At the front it was fairly static, with no changes in position apart from Kubica for quite some time. In the last five minutes or so Davidson made a move and took over at the top, 1:26.822 for just a hundredth quicker than Wurz.
Heidfeld gave himself all of three minutes to get onto the time sheet, which he did in 25th, then moved up to 15th. Albers was a late retiree when the MF1 went off track in the last sector but the session was practically over by then. There was no change at the front, with the third drivers led by Davidson taking the top three positions.
"I've had a very positive day today and I'm pleased to be top of the times again," said Davidson. "I think we've done a good job on tyre evaluation and overall we're looking good. There's definitely more to come though so if we keep moving forward like we have today we should have a good weekend."
Wurz was fractionally behind but struggled a little. "Conditions were not so easy today," he admitted. "It was cold, windy and it was difficult to know where to put the car on the circuit. Now we need to think about our tyre choice and the strategy for tomorrow and Sunday and we have some good ideas."
After the engine failure in the morning, Kubica did a solid job. "We tried some promising aero solutions and were able to do consistent times in our long run," he said. "On my last outing I had some traffic, otherwise I would have been even quicker, but that is less important in a free practice session."
BMW confirmed after the session that due to the problems in Bahrain and Malaysia, they decided on two new engines this weekend. "One is already installed in Nick's car, and Jacques will get the second in time for qualifying after Saturday's morning practice session," said motorsport director Mario Theissen. "As a result he will lose 10 positions on the grid."
There were quite a few laps put in this afternoon but overall not a significant amount of movement on the time sheet, so it's hard to say who's looking on the pace. Button was the fastest race driver in fourth and generally speaking Honda, Renault, Ferrari and McLaren looked to be the competitive teams, so no surprise there.
The rest were a mixed bunch but roughly where you'd expect them to be; Williams, Red Bull, Toyota and BMW race drivers scattered through the midfield with the odd Toro Rosso and MF1 thrown in, and Super Aguri at the back. Final top eight classification: Davidson, Wurz, Kubica, Button, Alonso, M.Schumacher, Raikkonen, Barrichello.