Ferrari on Friday did nothing to shift an impression they seem inclined to put the Formula One season on cruise control. Felipe Massa then Kimi Raikkonen took turns as fastest through the first two practice sessions for the Turkish Grand Prix at...
Ferrari on Friday did nothing to shift an impression they seem inclined to put the Formula One season on cruise control. Felipe Massa then Kimi Raikkonen took turns as fastest through the first two practice sessions for the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park.
Working in cool, damp conditions that reflected the race weekend's move from August to May, teams found grip more elusive than desired. Slippery conditions -- the course officially declared "wet" for the first session -- limited laps, most drivers staying in the garage until conditions improved. Lunchtime rain set back drying conditions that didn't revisit till afternoon.
In defense of his race title, Massa topped first practice time charts with a 1-minute, 27.323-second tour of the 3.317-mile course. That time was .006 seconds quicker than his pole time from last year. Raikkonen was limited to three laps, that is, one flyer, in first practice through a balky gearbox and was thereby slowest in the session. He turned a 1:27.543 to top times in second practice. Massa, who claimed pole and victory the past two years, and Raikkonen, the inaugural winner in 2005, are the only drivers to have won in the brief history of the Turkish race.
Also following form, McLarens were second-best to the red cars. Heikki Kovalainen led teammate McLaren Mercedes Lewis Hamilton as Massa followers in first practice. Hamilton (1:27.579) edged ahead of Massa to place behind Raikkonen in second practice.
As is becoming his habit, Scotsman David Coulthard put his Red Bull among time leaders in practices. After running to 17th in the early session, he placed fourth in second practice with a 1:27.763, which pushed Kovalainen to fifth.
Coulthard teammate Mark Webber, meanwhile, red-flagged the second session when a wheel on damp grass spun him at an inopportune spot on the course. His RB4 speared nose-first into a closely placed barrier, detaching his wheels from suspension, although they remained tethered to the car. Webber was unhurt. Williams's Nico Rosberg, Renault's Nelsinho Piquet, Hamilton, BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld, Honda's Jenson Button, Toyota's Timo Glock and Scuderia Toro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais also drifted off course in one fashion or another.
Catching stewards' attention as most eager, Force India veteran Giancarlo Fisichella was penalized three grid spots, to be added to his qualifying effort, for rushing past the pit-lane red light indicating the track was not yet open.
As the interesting bit of the season becomes the chase race, teams were jumbled through the next several places as Renault, Honda, Williams, BMW Sauber and Toyota jostled to fill the top half of the charts, now halved at 10 instead of 11 places owing to the financial collapse and competition withdrawal of Super Aguri earlier in the week.
Renault's Fernando Alonso showed in fourth and ninth spots from first to second practice. His teammate Piquet went from ninth to 16th. Button put his Honda in fifth in first practice before dropping to 11th in second. Button's teammate Rubens Barrichello, whose F1 longevity hits 257 starts this weekend, reached eighth for openers only to fall to 15th later in the day when conditions improved. Kazuki Nakajima in the Williams Toyota was good for sixth early then eighth. Williams teammate Rosberg could do no better than 13th in either session.
Looking to be Best of the Rest with honest aspirations of more, BMW Sauber turned was less than spectacular, timewise. Heidfeld went from seventh to 10th from one session to another. Robert Kubica, who delivered the team's first pole position in Bahrain, improved from 12th to sixth.
Jarno Trulli of Toyota also improved his time, from 11th in first practice to seventh. His teammate Glock showed a measure of consistency with 10th- and 12th-best times from first to second practices.
Confined to the bottom regions of time charts were Force India's Fisichella, who improved from 15th to 14th from first session to next. His teammate Adrian Sutil fell from 14th to 20th. Toro Rosso's Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel were mired in the bottom spots. Vettel dropped nearly a second from his time but it improved his chart place only two spots, 19th to 17th. Bourdais similarly quickened but he stayed in 18th through both sessions.