Pedro de la Rosa maintained his top spot in Friday's second practice session for the British Grand Prix and bettered his fastest time of the morning by seven tenths. McLaren's third driver clocked 1:18.530, just over four tenths up on Toyota No.3...
Pedro de la Rosa maintained his top spot in Friday's second practice session for the British Grand Prix and bettered his fastest time of the morning by seven tenths. McLaren's third driver clocked 1:18.530, just over four tenths up on Toyota No.3 Ricardo Zonta. McLaren race drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen made it a strong day for the team with third and fourth respectively.
The conditions were not much changed from this morning's session as de la Rosa and Zonta were swiftly out on track. Red Bull third driver Tonio Liuzzi was also quickly to work, as were Jordan's Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro and the Minardi of Christijan Albers.
De la Rosa clocked 1:23.881 to start with, followed by Liuzzi into second and Zonta third. De la Rosa improved to 1:23.129 and Renault's Fernando Alonso was next to the top, 1:22.336, eight tenths up on the McLaren. Karthikeyan was fifth and Albers sixth, with Red Bull's Christian Klien in seventh.
Toyota's Ralf Schumacher took over the sixth position and de la Rosa returned to the top with a 1:22.111. David Coulthard put his Red Bull fifth and Alonso demoted de la Rosa by five hundredths, 1:22.060. Ralf improved to third and Coulthard to fourth, while Sauber's Felipe Massa and Williams' Nick Heidfeld took seventh and eighth respectively.
Montoya's McLaren arrived in third and de la Rosa again demoted Alonso, 1:21.763, followed by teammate Raikkonen into second. Michael Schumacher put his Ferrari fifth and the Toyota of Jarno Trulli took sixth, and the second Sauber of Jacques Villeneuve posted 14th. Raikkonen improved to within seven hundredths of de la Rosa.
Michael climbed to third and Massa back to seventh after being shuffled down, while Jenson Button's BAR clocked sixth on his first flyer. Coulthard took the place off him and de la Rosa improved to 1:21.556. Michael followed into second, just over a hundredth off, then Montoya demoted them both with a 1:21.427.
It was short lived as de la Rosa was back to the top almost straight away, 1:21.364, then Michael took over with a 1:21.261. Raikkonen, Alonso and Button held station in fourth, fifth and sixth, while Klien and Massa made up the top eight. Michael improved to 1:21.044, widening the gap to de la Rosa to three tenths, then Alonso took second, only slightly quicker.
Rubens Barrichello, whose Ferrari had been lurking at the edge of the top ten, climbed to seventh and further down the field Monteiro improved to 18th to lead the Jordan/Minardi gang. Massa improved his time but stayed eighth, having been dropped a place by Barrichello. De la Rosa set fastest sectors in one and two on his next flyer to clock 1:20.875 for the top.
Karthikeyan took over from Monteiro in 18th and after 20 minutes only Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella had not set a time. Ralf, who had been abruptly shunted down the times, posted 15th and Massa was still working away to climb to sixth. Klien led the trio of Red Bulls in 10th and things quietened down a little midway through the session.
Ralf moved up to 10th and Raikkonen was next to the top, 1:20.454, four tenths up on de la Rosa. Heidfeld moved into 15th and Trulli improved to 10th ahead of him, while Raikkonen was storming round again to drop his time to 1:20.384. Zonta climbed to sixth and Trulli followed on, first into eighth and then to seventh.
Monteiro took the lead of the backmarkers in 17th, one ahead of Mark Webber's Williams, but then Webber woke up and shot up to fourth. Fisichella finally appeared in 15th and Montoya put in a very quick middle sector to take the top, 1:20.252. So it was a McLaren one-two-three at just over half way through.
Albers moved to the front of the backmarker train, while Fisichella improved to 11th. Barrichello and Button traded 10th then the Ferrari made a marginal effort for eighth, but was quickly demoted by Massa taking the place. Liuzzi suddenly dragged himself out of the midfield to fourth and Zonta moved up to second, just over a tenth off Montoya.
The Toyota then took over at the top with a 1:20.086. Trulli climbed to fourth and Coulthard went up to seventh, then Trulli lost out to de la Rosa. Jordan No.3 Robert Doornbos took his turn at leading the Jordan/Minardi group in 20th and Zonta set fastest sectors across the board to clock 1:18.964, over a second up on Montoya.
Ralf improved to fourth but there was little movement in the last five minutes. Alonso improved to seventh after loitering at the edge of the top ten and de la Rosa, not to be denied his favourite Friday spot, put in a last gasp effort to take over at the top, 1:18.589. He stayed out for one more go and dropped it to 1:18.530, four tenths up on Zonta.
"I'm very pleased with our overall performance," said de la Rosa. "The car works very well here at Silverstone. The two long runs in the second session with 17 and 16 laps provided us with plenty of useful data, which should give my team mates a basis for the rest of the weekend."
McLaren is certainly living up to expectations so far, with all three cars running high up the order most of the session. The rest were harder to judge as many drivers were up and down the times like nobody's business. From the final times Toyota looks strong but the Cologne trio were not as consistent as the McLaren boys.
"The car felt good both during the morning session and for the longer runs in the afternoon," Zonta commented. "We found some tyres that were quick and consistent over longer runs. This track changes a lot depending on the weather, but so far so good."
Montoya has a tough job in qualifying tomorrow. "I experienced a bit of understeer in the first sector especially through Becketts, but otherwise I'm happy with the performance of our package," said the Colombian. "I think we should have another strong weekend, but I'm going to work extra hard on my qualifying lap to balance out having to go out somewhat early."
The rest were pretty much a jumble, many with a large gap between teammates. Alonso was seventh but Fisichella down in 13th, Michael 10th and Barrichello 15th. Likewise BAR had Button 11th and Sato 19th, while Webber was 12th for Williams and Heidfeld 18th. Red Bull did quite well to get Coulthard and Liuzzi in the top ten but Klien lagged in 14th.
Sauber was down the times with Massa and Villeneuve 16th and 17th but it's perhaps a bit misleading, for Massa at least, as he ran in the top ten for much of the practice. Villeneue sustained some damage after hitting debris on the track. Overall it was a very mixed session. Final top eight classification: De la Rosa, Zonta, Montoya, Raikkonen, R. Schumacher, Trulli, Alonso, Liuzzi.