McLaren still top in last Italian GP practices

McLaren still top in last Italian GP practices

Unsurprisingly, McLaren kept its storming pace of the weekend so far in the final Saturday morning practices for the Italian Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen topped the times after session two with a 1:20.916 and Juan Pablo Montoya was four tenths off...

Unsurprisingly, McLaren kept its storming pace of the weekend so far in the final Saturday morning practices for the Italian Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen topped the times after session two with a 1:20.916 and Juan Pablo Montoya was four tenths off in second. Raikkonen had also been fastest in the first practice. BAR's Takuma Sato was third at the end of the morning.

Kimi Raikkonen.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Team test driver Antonio Pizzonia will replace Nick Heidfeld at Williams this morning and for the remainder of the weekend. Heidfeld experienced a crash in testing at Monza last week and although he seemed fine at the time, he suffered headaches after yesterday's practice. On medical advice he decided not to race.

Minardi's Robert Doornobs was first on track, followed by the Jordans of Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan. Christijan Albers joined them in the second Minardi but nobody was inclined to do much except for installation laps. The McLarens of Montoya and Raikkonen appeared for theirs but it was 20 minutes before anyone set a time.

The Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso were first on the time sheet, Fisichella's best 1:22.900 and Alonso a tenth or so behind. Karthikeyan took third, over two seconds down and Ralf Schumacher's Toyota started with a leisurely fourth then moved ahead of Karthikeyan.

Sato claimed the third spot, while Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello posted sixth and seventh but it was hardly a lively morning. Barrichello climbed all of one place to fifth and Pizzonia's first effort put him eighth. Jarno Trulli's Toyota promptly took the position off him.

Doornbos clocked eighth on his first flyer but was quickly shunted down by the arrival of the Red Bulls, David Coulthard ahead of Christian Klien. Barrichello went up to third and Trulli to fifth, and the Williams of Mark Webber arrived in sixth. Sato retook third from the Ferrari, nearly eight tenths off the Renaults.

Webber then took the third slot and closed the gap to two and a half tenths and Jenson Button's BAR appeared in 10th. Ralf and Pizzonia improved in tandem to seventh and eighth respectively, but then Button moved up to split them. Juan Pablo Montoya put his McLaren third and Michael Schumacher went to the top on his first flyer, 1:22.728.

Raikkonen took up the challenge and posted 1:22.694, just a couple of hundredths up on the Ferrari, then Montoya clocked 1:22.676 for about the same margin up on his teammate. Alonso was fourth, a couple of tenths down with Fisichella right behind him.

Raikkonen improved to 1:22.415 to regain the top and Michael also improved to second, just over a tenth down. It seemed a better start to the day for Ferrari and Renault but there were very few laps done so it was too soon to tell. Raikkonen remained top, followed by Michael and Montoya.

The second 45 minute practice started in equally quiet fashion. Raikkonen came out for a couple of laps and with a best of 1:22.064. Karthikeyan and Monteiro slotted in behind, nearly three seconds off, then Montoya took second, just under eight tenths down. Michael then claimed the place and closed the gap to half a second.

Alonso took fourth and Trulli fifth, followed by Fisichella in sixth. Sato and Coulthard were next in line, with Monteiro and Klien making up the top ten. Coulthard then improved to seventh and Button slotted in behind for eighth. Barrichello moved up to 10th from the midfield, then stayed out for another lap and gained eighth.

Button climbed to sixth and Pizzonia took ninth, then Webber clocked third on his first flyer of the session. Villeneuve posted 13th and Sauber teammate Felipe Massa was having a very quiet morning in 17th after only a few laps. Alonso wound up a flyer and set fastest sectors across the board to clock 1:21.548, half a second up on Raikkonen.

Raikkonen replied with another lap of fastest sectors and posted 1:20.916 for six tenths up. Now Michael in third was nearly a second off the pace of Alonso. Barrichello improved to sixth and Trulli to fifth, then Montoya took the second spot from Alonso, four tenths off Raikkonen. Doornbos made a good effort for 13th in front of Sato.

Sato hurled his BAR up to third and Webber went up to fifth but there were still few laps being put in. Villeneuve improved to eighth but Massa was down in 19th, a strange morning for Sauber. Not a good one for Jordan either as Karthikeyan went off track at Grand Curve and hit the barrier. He was uninjured.

Fisichella improved to fourth and Massa made a bit of an effort for 15th, while Klien made a bigger one for eighth. At the end of the session Raikkonen and Montoya remained at the top with Sato and Alonso not too far behind. Evidently McLaren looks the team to beat but the rest were a bit few and far between.

There was not really any consistent lapping to make any comparisons but Renault, BAR and Toyota were all pretty much solidly in the top ten. It looks like a certainty that a McLaren will be on pole, barring any peculiarities. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Montoya, Sato, Alonso, Trulli, Fisichella, Webber, Coulthard.

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