The 2005 season got under way with Red Bull Racing's third driver Vitantonio Liuzzi setting the fastest time in the first free practice session of the Australian Grand Prix. Liuzzi clocked 1:25.967, half a second faster than McLaren third driver...
The 2005 season got under way with Red Bull Racing's third driver Vitantonio Liuzzi setting the fastest time in the first free practice session of the Australian Grand Prix. Liuzzi clocked 1:25.967, half a second faster than McLaren third driver Pedro de la Rosa. Toyota No.3 Ricardo Zonta was third fastest in what was a low key start to the weekend.
Minardi did not run in this session as Ferrari still refuses to agree to the Italian team using its 2004 spec cars. Minardi principal Paul Stoddart said that the other teams had approved, and Jordan and Red Bull had accepted that they were bound by their respective teams' previous bosses' agreement. Whether Ferrari will give in remains to be seen.
Conditions were dry, track temperature around 30 degrees and air temperature approximately 20 degrees as Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve led the pack out for installation laps. After 10 minutes Liuzzi clocked the first flyer, 1:33.405. He swiftly bought his time down to 1:31.462 and de la Rosa slotted in behind, over a second down on his first effort.
Liuzzi improved again to 1:30.512 and de la Rosa closed in to within half a second. Jordan third driver Robert Doornbos was next to join the time sheet, third fastest, followed by Zonta who took the position off him. De la Rosa moved to the top by over a second then widened the gap further with a 1:29.209, the third drivers making most of the early running.
Zonta improved to second fastest, just two tenths down on the McLaren, then took the top slot by just over a tenth, 1:29.083. Jordan's Tiago Monteiro joined in fifth, initially way off Zonta's pace, followed by teammate Narain Karthikeyan in sixth. Karthikeyan then jumped ahead of Monteiro by a few tenths, down to ten seconds astray.
Liuzzi improved to the top with a 1:28.923 but Karthikeyan appeared to be having problems as his Jordan puffed out smoke. De la Rosa overtook Liuzzi by six tenths, 1:28.290, and the Italian retaliated with a 1:25.967. With 15 minutes remaining, other drivers started to appear on the time sheet.
Williams' Mark Webber took fourth fastest and Toyota's Ralf Schumacher fifth. He was followed by the BAR of Jenson Button, while Jarno Trulli put his Toyota seventh and Takuma Sato's BAR made eighth. Button improved to fourth and Red Bull's Christian Klien took over eighth. The second Williams of Nick Heidfeld initially clocked 11th, while David Coulthard put his Red Bull into third.
Heidfeld improved to seventh and Coulthard moved up behind Liuzzi, a second and a half down. De la Rosa took over the slot, closing the gap to Liuzzi to just over a second. Rubens Barrichello was the first Ferrari to set a time in 10th and Villeneuve returned to the track 15th. Trulli moved up to sixth and Juan Pablo Montoya's first flyer put his McLaren seventh.
The second Sauber of Felipe Massa ventured out near the end to clock sixth fastest and teammate Villeneuve improved to 13th. Montoya climbed to fourth and de la Rosa closed the gap to Liuzzi to half a second. Button moved up to ninth after being shuffled down the order and that was the end of the session. The two Renaults, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen did not set a time.
An unsurprisingly slow start, with the teams' No.3 drivers doing most of the work as the race drivers conserve their engines. Liuzzi did a good job but it's far too early to judge where anyone stands after so little track action. Final top eight classification: Liuzzi, de la Rosa, Zonta, Montoya, Coulthard, Massa, Webber, Trulli.