Christian Klien was the man who set the pace in the final practice session for the German Grand Prix, the Red Bull clocking a best of 1:15.628 around Hockenheim on Saturday morning. He was just two hundredths quicker than the Honda of Jenson...
Christian Klien was the man who set the pace in the final practice session for the German Grand Prix, the Red Bull clocking a best of 1:15.628 around Hockenheim on Saturday morning. He was just two hundredths quicker than the Honda of Jenson Button and Button's teammate Rubens Barrichello was third on the time sheet.
The track temperature was in the high thirties at the start of the session and MF1's Tiago Monteiro was the first man to go out on the circuit. The Super Aguris of Sakon Yamamoto and Takuma Sato followed on with the second MF1 of Christijan Albers. Yamamoto clocked the first time, 1:27.120, but the rest of the pack weren't keen to get going.
Sato took over with a 1:22.630 and they were the only two lapping. Super Aguri suffered hydraulic problems on Friday and had some track time to make up. Sato improved to 1:20.276 over his next couple of laps and Monteiro slotted into second, nine tenths off. Sato took a fraction more out of his own best time then Monterio went quicker, 1:20.038.
Albers was next to the top, 1:19.254 and Jarno Trulli's Toyota appeared but promptly came to a halt in the first sector, possibly an engine failure. Teammate Ralf Schumacher was also out on track, along with the Honda of Barrichello. Ralf's 1:18.631 was six tenths up on Albers, while more drivers were beginning to venture out.
Scott Speed's Toro Rosso, Jacques Villeneuve's BMW Sauber and Nico Rosberg's Williams were next on the circuit, then the McLaren of Pedro de la Rosa. Barrichello clocked fifth and Speed seventh, while Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren and Tonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso joined the action. Klien's Red Bull and Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber were next.
Barrichello improved to second and Rosberg took third, while de la Rosa slotted into fifth. Speed then took the third place and Villeneuve posted fifth, followed by Raikkonen into eighth. Rosberg's 1:17.628 took over from Ralf, four tenths up, and Heidfeld joined in fifth. Villeneuve moved ahead of his teammate and Liuzzi went one better.
David Coulthard's Red Bull posted fourth on his first flyer and Mark Webber's Williams followed him into fifth. Coulthard improved to second and Klien jumped up to sixth from outside the top 10. Michael Schumacher was the first Ferrari on track, fifth, and Button made his way out and posted 12th.
Webber was next to take the second spot, a tenth off Rosberg, but was quickly demoted by Michael, three thousandths down on the lead Williams. The German then took the top spot, 1:17.466 but was immediately ousted by teammate Felipe Massa, whose Ferrari clocked 1:17.150, three tenths up.
The Renaults were the last to arrive on the time sheet after half an hour had gone, Giancarlo Fisichella 15th and Fernando Alonso eighth. Massa, meanwhile, was still lapping and posted 1:16.208 for over a second up on Michael. Button improved to fourth and Alonso to second, followed by Ralf into third.
Fisichella moved up to fifth and Massa was still flying at the front, his next a 1:16.012, just over a second up on Alonso. Fisichella took another step up to fourth then Barrichello improved to third. Heidfeld, who had been skulking towards the back, shot up to second, a tenth and a half off Massa.
Rosberg took the third spot and further down the field Monteiro improved to 14th ahead of Klien and Villeneuve. He stayed out and gained another couple of places to 12th. The McLarens were at the back, only having done a few laps, then Raikkonen posted ninth. Webber went back up to sixth after being dropped outside the top 10.
Raikkonen was on the move still and his next lap clocked third, while teammate de la Rosa also woke up and took fourth. Coulthard, who had been dropped down to the midfield, suddenly appeared in second, less than a tenth off Massa. Speed made his way up to seventh from outside the top 10 and teammate Liuzzi did likewise to sixth.
Fisichella had been quietly lapping in the midfield and climbed a couple of places to 10th. There was 10 minutes to go and the action tapered off, with only one or two cars on track for a while. Klien, who had been near the back, suddenly bounced to the top, 1:15.628 for three and a half tenths up on Massa, who had also improved slightly at the same time.
In the final minutes Button improved to second, only fractionally behind Klien, and Barrichello to third, followed by Fisichella to sixth. Yamamoto crashed quite heavily at the last corner but seemed okay. The yellow flags scuppered Michael's last gasp flier, which would have been fastest but he had to back off and it put him ninth.
It was an interesting session and at the end the top 14, near enough, were covered by one second. Red Bull was impressive and the Ferraris were flying, while Honda was quick and Renault and McLaren rather quiet. Qualifying is anyone's guess. Final top eight classification: Klien, Button, Barrichello, Massa, Coulthard, Fisichella, Heidfeld, Raikkonen.