Title rivals Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso took the top of the times for a session apiece in the Saturday morning practices for the Brazilian Grand Prix. Alonso's Renault was on top in the first session and Raikkonen's McLaren fastest in the...
Title rivals Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso took the top of the times for a session apiece in the Saturday morning practices for the Brazilian Grand Prix. Alonso's Renault was on top in the first session and Raikkonen's McLaren fastest in the second. Raikkonen closed the final practice at Interlagos with a best of 1:11.929 and Alonso was second quickest, with BAR's Jenson Button third.
Both the track and air temperatures were in the low to mid twenties at the start of the first session as Minardi's Christijan Albers led out. Jordan's Narain Karthikeyan and Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren followed on, along with the second Minardi of Robert Doornbos. Taigo Monteiro's Jordan was next to put in an appearance, followed by Raikkonen. As usual, nobody was in a hurry to get down to work.
BAR's Takuma Sato and Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve did their installation laps, as did the Red Bull of Christian Klien, and it was Klien who set the first flyer after 20 minutes, 1:15.060. He bought it down to 1:14.052 on his next lap, then was demoted by Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault, which clocked 1:13.507. Montoya took second, a tenth and a half down, and Ralf Schumacher's Toyota joined in fourth.
Fisichella improved to 1:12.789 and the second Toyota of Jarno Trulli posted sixth, one behind Karthikeyan. Monterio then took the place of Trulli, while Albers was the eighth car on the time sheet. Alonso took over from teammate Fisichella with a 1:12.738 and Trulli moved ahead of the Jordans for sixth. Michael Schumacher's Ferrari joined in seventh then climbed to fourth.
Rubens Barrichello put his Ferrari eighth and Button promptly took the place off him. Barrichello retaliated to retake it and Sato arrived behind the squabbling pair in 10th. Button then improved to fourth and Barrichello to seventh, while Mark Webber's Williams clocked 11th on his first effort. Sato moved up to eighth and the Saubers of Felipe Massa and Jacques Villeneuve appeared in 12th and 15th respectively.
The Williams of Antonio Pizzonia and the Red Bull of David Coulthard posted 14th and 17th on their first fliers, then Coulthard climbed to 12th. Trulli improved to fifth and Klien to 10th after being shuffled down the order. Raikkonen took the fifth position on his first timed lap then went up one to fourth. At the end of the session it was the Renaults leading the McLarens, Alonso and Fisichella followed by Montoya and Raikkonen.
By the start of the second session the temperature had risen a few degrees and rain showers are predicted for later today and tomorrow. Michael was first on the time sheet with a 1:13.884 but was quickly replaced by Raikkonen's 1:13.028. Monteiro took third and Doornbos fourth then Villeneuve appropriated the third spot. Raikkonen lowered his time to 1:12.850 and Sato took the popular third position, with Ralf slotting in behind for fourth.
Montoya arrived in second, less than four hundredths off Raikkonen, and Massa posted sixth, followed by Button into seventh. Montoya then took over at the top, 1:12.700, and Fisichella clocked third. Alonso was ninth on his first effort then climbed to fourth, while Coulthard appeared in 10th. Trulli took 11th and Button fifth then Alonso moved ahead of Fisichella for third.
Klien posted 13th then moved up one and Michael improved to second, less than two hundredths off Montoya. Barrichello posted sixth and Pizzonia 12th, while Doornbos moved ahead of Villeneuve to take 15th. Raikkonen set fastest sectors across the board to go fastest with a 1:12.109, nearly six tenths up on Montoya, who then also improved to close the gap to two and a half tenths.
Karthikeyan arrived in fifth and at one point Albers was as high as 12th, the usual backmarkers making an impression. Alonso went up to second, just over a tenth off Raikkonen, and Coulthard climbed to eighth. Barrichello and Button, who had both been at the edge of the top ten, improved in tandem to fourth and second respectively, Button four hundredths down on Raikkonen.
Pizzonia moved up to seventh and then there was a lull in activity in the last 10 minutes. Montoya bettered his time but stayed fourth while Massa made a jump from 16th to eighth. Monteiro was another backmarker who got noticed, up to 10th, one behind Karthikeyan, who was slowly but surely being dropped down the order after his startling arrival. Trulli took ninth then Coulthard removed him from the place.
In the final minutes there were one or two minor changes of positions and at the front Alonso improved to second, just under two tenths off Raikkonen. Renault appears to be on McLaren's pace around Interlagos but the rest were hard to judge. Whatever happens, qualifying looks set to be interesting. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Alonso, Button, Fisichella, Montoya, Barrichello, M. Schumacher, R. Schumacher.