McLaren sets the pace in Turkish GP first practice

McLaren sets the pace in Turkish GP first practice

The Otodrom Istanbul may be a new venue on the calendar but it was a familiar face at the top of the times in Friday's first practice session for the Turkish Grand Prix. McLaren third driver Pedro de la Rosa clocked a best of 1:27.882 and teammate...

The Otodrom Istanbul may be a new venue on the calendar but it was a familiar face at the top of the times in Friday's first practice session for the Turkish Grand Prix. McLaren third driver Pedro de la Rosa clocked a best of 1:27.882 and teammate Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest, just under six tenths off. The Williams of Mark Webber made a last minute effort for third.

Pedro de la Rosa.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The temperature was in the high twenties at the start of the session, with the track temperature edging close to 40 degrees, as de la Rosa led out for the installation laps. Toyota, Jordan and Red Bull counterparts Ricardo Zonta, Nicolas Kiesa and Tonio Liuzzi followed on, along with several others, but it was the usual quiet start.

After 10 minutes of exploration Zonta set out on a flyer, with de la Rosa tagging along behind, and clocked a tentative 1:33.753. The McLaren shaved a couple of seconds off for 1:31.038 and Zonta closed the gap to seven tenths on his next effort. De la Rosa then stretched it to over two seconds again when he posted 1:29.440 next time around.

Predicted lap times were in the 1:25 area so there was still some improvement to be found. Kiesa took the third spot, 11 seconds astray, and de la Rosa bought his time down a little more to 1:29.070. Liuzzi demoted Kiesa, the Red Bull five seconds off the top, and Zonta once again closed the gap to de la Rosa to seven tenths.

It was short lived as de la Rosa clocked 1:28.585 to extend his lead to over a second. Kiesa lowered his time to within seven seconds of the McLaren, while Liuzzi was just over three seconds adrift. Minardi's Robert Doornbos made it five on the time sheet, initially over 10 seconds down on de la Rosa but he bought it down to eight seconds.

For the second time this season Minardi fielded a third car, with newly signed test driver Enrico Toccacelo behind the wheel. The Italian started out over 14 seconds off the pace then came down to 11 seconds astray. Teammate Christijan Albers arrived in sixth and the Jordan of Tiago Monteiro clocked eighth on his first effort.

Narain Karthikeyan put his Jordan seventh and de la Rosa improved his top time to 1:28.315. Monteiro moved up to take the seventh spot and Karthikeyan did likewise to post fifth. Raikkonen was the first of the front runners put in an appearance, the McLaren taking third fastest, while de la Rosa improved again to 1:27.882.

Sauber's Felipe Massa clocked fifth on his first flyer but immediately lost the place to the McLaren of Juan Pablo Montoya. Raikkonen went up to second, 1.6 down on de la Rosa, and the second Sauber of Jacques Villeneuve posted 12th. Montoya improved to fourth and Kiesa to seventh, and Massa made his way back up to fifth.

Fernando Alonso was the first Renault to appear, which meant Massa lost the fifth spot again, while Kiesa and Monteiro improved in tandem to seventh and eighth respectively. Zonta took over the second spot, just over a second down on de la Rosa, and Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault took the popular fifth position on his first flyer.

Michael Schumacher's Ferrari followed into sixth, then Alonso returned to fifth, and Zonta closed the gap to the lead McLaren to nine tenths. Webber was the first Williams out and posted -- go on, guess -- fifth, while Jarno Trulli put in an appearance for Toyota in 10th. Jenson Button put his BAR sixth on his first effort.

Webber improved to fourth and the second BAR of Takuma Sato took eighth. David Coulthard was the first of the Red Bull race drivers on the time sheet, a lowly 17th to start with. Button moved up to fifth and Ralf Schumacher's Toyota crept onto the bottom of the times in 21st. Rubens Barrichello, whose Ferrari had been lurking at the back, improved to 12th.

Coulthard climbed to 12th and teammate Christian Klien started with 21st but the practice was briefly red-flagged when de la Rosa came to a halt on track in the first sector. The McLaren was apparently jammed in gear and had to be removed with a crane. There was a pause for five minutes then the session was restarted.

With the Williams of Nick Heidfeld in 19th, everybody had been out to set a time. Massa climbed to 12th after being shuffled down the order, and Montoya to fifth, while Sato also improved to seventh. Button went up to third, followed by Alonso to fourth, but de la Rosa remained undisturbed at the top. There were a few position changes in the last five minutes but nothing really surprising.

Webber made a last gasp improvement to second but was immediately demoted by Raikkonen, who was six tenths down on teammate de la Rosa. There were a few spins and off track excursions during this first outing on the Istanbul circuit but no major incidents. Final top eight classification: De la Rosa, Raikkonen, Webber, Zonta, Button, Montoya, Alonso, M. Schumacher.

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