McLaren flies in final German GP practices

McLaren flies in final German GP practices

McLaren was flying in the Saturday morning practices for the German Grand Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya clocking the first and second fastest times in both sessions. Raikkonen was quickest at the end with a 1:14.128 and Montoya...

McLaren was flying in the Saturday morning practices for the German Grand Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya clocking the first and second fastest times in both sessions. Raikkonen was quickest at the end with a 1:14.128 and Montoya was three tenths behind. Renault's Fernando Alonso was third in both sessions and the top six in the final practice were within a second.

Kimi Raikkonen.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Another cool morning greeted the drivers as the Minardis and Jordans led out for installation laps, Christijan Albers, Robert Doornbos, Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan the first to take to the track. They were joined by the McLarens and the Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Alonso but nobody was in a hurry to get down to business.

After 15 minutes Alonso was the first to set a time, 1:16.702, and Fisichella slotted in behind about six tenths off. Albers clocked third and Doornbos fourth, then another quiet spell followed before a bit more activity. Ralf Schumacher's Toyota took third but was immediately demoted by the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello, and Jacques Villeneuve's Sauber arrived in sixth.

Ralf took back the third slot and Karthikeyan improved to fourth, then Villeneuve took over third. Everyone except Fisichella was over a second down on Alonso until Raikkonen put in his first flyer to post just two hundredths off the lead Renault. Villeneuve and Barrichello improved in tandem but held station in fourth and fifth and Raikkonen went to the top with a 1:15.992, seven tenths up on Alonso.

Michael Schumacher's Ferrari arrived in eighth and Raikkonen lowered his time to 1:15.823. Alonso responded to close the gap to six tenths and David Coulthard started his session with ninth in the Red Bull. The Scot then improved to seventh and after 30 minutes everyone from Fisichella in third was a second and a half or more off the pace of Raikkonen. Fisichella lowered his time but remained over a second down.

Coulthard climbed to fourth, fractionally behind Fisichella, then Juan Pablo Montoya demoted teammate Raikkonen with a 1:15.753, just seven hundredths quicker. Toyota's Jarno Trulli took sixth on his first flyer, and the Williams of Nick Heidfeld 12th, while the BARs joined in formation, Takuma Sato 10th and Jenson Button 11th. Sauber's Felipe Massa clocked 12th and the second Williams of Mark Webber was one behind for 13th.

Webber improved to fourth, Sato to ninth, Massa to eighth and Red Bull's Christian Klien was the last to set a time, 10th. He then jumped up to fourth and Massa followed into fifth, the youngsters apparently on a mission this morning. Massa was just fractionally over a second off Montoya and about a tenth down on Klien, so good stuff from Sauber and Red Bull.

Raikkonen then took the top, 1:15.684 for seven hundredths up on Montoya -- the McLarens were very well matched and looking strong. Alonso remained third at the end of the first 45 minute session, eight tenths down, with Klien and Massa holding station in fourth and fifth. Coulthard was a late improver to sixth and Webber and Trulli made up the top eight.

Ralf and Raikkonen were quickly out on track at the start of the second session, Ralf clocking 1:18.149 and Kimi 1:16.315. Montoya was next to join, 1:15.798, followed by Raikkonen's 1:14.987. Montoya posted two tenths off his teammate on his next lap and Ralf remained third, nearly two seconds off the McLarens. Fisichella was fourth, with Karthikeyan and Monteiro in fifth and sixth.

Alonso took over third, a second down on the top two, and Sato made sixth, then was demoted by teammate Button. Trulli took eighth and Fisichella improved his time but stayed fourth. Button moved up to fifth and Webber and Villeneuve arrived in seventh and ninth. Villeneuve moved up to seventh but was immediately demoted by Webber again, and Heidfeld posted eighth.

Trulli improved to fifth and Massa arrived in seventh, while the two Ferraris were 13th and 14th, Michael and Barrichello respectively. Klien took over 13th, Massa climbed one to sixth and Michael went up to 10th, then Klien bounced up to fifth, with Massa following into sixth. Klien had another go and went up to third and Montoya ousted Raikkonen from the top with a 1:14.937.

Ralf took 10th, one behind Michael, and Coulthard posted 11th, then Sato made a big leap from the midfield to third. Ralf went up to eighth and Coulthard to seventh, then Alonso returned to third, just nine hundredths off Montoya and five behind Raikkonen. The Spaniard then clocked 1:14.758, just under two tenths up on Montoya. Raikkonen responded with a 1:14.128 to go six tenths quicker.

Button took fourth and Montoya second, three tenths down on Raikkonen, and at the other end of the pack Doornbos was leading the backmarkers in 16th, one ahead of Villeneuve. Albers then made an effort and moved up to 13th -- very good for Minardi -- and Monteiro spun his Jordan in the final sector. Michael, who had been languishing in the midfield, improved to fifth.

Fisichella dropped the Ferrari one when he improved to fourth and Villeneuve went up to 10th. Klien took seventh and Coulthard and Trulli eighth and ninth in quick succession, while Ralf worked his way back up the field to 11th. Webber made a last minute improvement to seventh and Heidfeld to eighth, but it remained static at the top at the end of the session.

McLaren looks a likely contender for pole this afternoon, either Raikkonen or Montoya. The Renaults can't be counted out but no-one else was really challenging. It was an improved morning for Williams and Red Bull and Sauber also looked quite handy, despite the Saubers lowly final positions. Both Minardis finished in front of the Jordans. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Montoya, Alonso, Fisichella, Button, Webber, M. Schumacher, Heidfeld.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan