Formula One is back in action after the four week break and McLaren started its Spanish campaign with a one-two at the top of the times in Friday's first practice session at the Circuit de Catalunya. Lewis Hamilton was fastest with a 1:21.880, just under four tenths quicker than teammate Fernando Alonso in second. McLaren ran the cars with the 'bridged' front wing that it tried in testing here last week.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest, four tenths behind Alonso, and the second scarlet car of Felipe Massa was fifth. Ferrari dominated in testing at this circuit but McLaren had the upper hand all through this first hour and a half of practice. Former Ferrari champion Michael Schumacher is present at the circuit and observed the on-track action.
Splitting the two Ferraris in fourth was the BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica, well ahead of teammate Nick Heidfeld who was down in 12th. BMW also ran a new front wing configuration. Anthony Davidson did a good job for Super Aguri in sixth, just under eight tenths off Hamilton. Takuma Sato couldn't match his pace and his Super Aguri was 13th.
Toyota was optimistic that it had made a step forward in testing and both Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher were in the top 10, seventh and eighth respectively. Just a tenth separated them and they were the last to be within a second of Hamilton. The Williams of Nico Rosberg followed in ninth and teammate Alex Wurz was 11th.
Jenson Button's Honda rounded off the top 10 but there was some distance on the list between him and the second Honda of Rubens Barrichello. The Brazilian was 18th but despite being eight places behind Button the gap between them was only a couple of tenths. Renault did not look particularly perky, Heikki Kovalainen 14th and Giancarlo Fisichella 15th.
Red Bull followed on, David Coulthard 16th and Mark Webber 17th, while the Spykers and Toro Rossos squabbled at the back. Spyker's Adrian Sutil was the leader of the quartet in 19th, then came the Toro Rossos of Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed in 20th and 21st respectively. Christijan Albers' Spyker rounded off the times in 22nd.
It was the usual sedate start to a race weekend with not a great deal of track activity. There were one or two off track incidents but nothing more than a yellow flag period when Coulthard spun. Will Ferrari strike back this afternoon? Final top eight classification: Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen, Kubica, Massa, Davidson, Trulli, Schumacher.