Raikkonen leads in Belgian GP first practice

Raikkonen leads in Belgian GP first practice

McLaren is still the fastest team on track, as Kimi Raikkonen led the way in Friday's first practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix with a best time of 1:48.206. Alex Wurz is McLaren's third driver for this weekend and was just one hundredth...

McLaren is still the fastest team on track, as Kimi Raikkonen led the way in Friday's first practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix with a best time of 1:48.206. Alex Wurz is McLaren's third driver for this weekend and was just one hundredth behind in second, while Giancarlo Fisichella showed that Renault was not far off the pace with third fastest.

Kimi Raikkonen.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The track was damp after earlier rain and the weather overcast as the third drivers led out; Jordan's Nicolas Kiesa, Toyota's Ricardo Zonta, Wurz and Minardi's Enrico Toccacelo. Race drivers Christijan Albers and Felipe Massa followed on for Minardi and Sauber respectively, along with the new Jordan EJ15Bs of Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan.

Red Bull No.3 Tonio Liuzzi joined the installation laps, and BAR's Jenson Button, but no-one was keen to set a time early on. Jacques Villeneuve's Sauber and the Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher appeared, most drivers on intermediate tyres on a track that had been declared wet for the session. BAR's Takuma Sato also came out for an installation lap.

Zonta and Wurz were the first to put in fliers; the former clocked a cautious 2:01.833 and the latter was over a second and a half up for 2:00.253. Kiesa posted third and Liuzzi slotted into second on his first effort, just over a second down on Wurz. Apparently worn out by all that strenuous activity, there was no further track action for another ten minutes then Zonta came back out.

There was a dry line appearing and the Toyota took second then set fastest sectors across the board to go to the top, 1:56.232 for fractionally over four seconds quicker than Wurz. Zonta seemed to enjoy having the track to himself and lowered his time to 1:54.104. Liuzzi improved his time to within three tenths of the Toyota but after 40 minutes it was still only those four drivers that had set a time.

Liuzzi stayed out and set fastest sectors round the lap to take over at the top with a 1:52.494, over a second and a half up on Zonta. Toccacelo joined the time sheet in fifth then Zonta returned to the top, nearly two seconds quicker than Liuzzi with 1:50.580. Kiesa, in the older Jordan, moved up to third but was then demoted by Wurz taking the slot.

Toccacelo's Minardi spun off and hit the barrier in the middle sector and bought out the yellow flags -- he was unharmed. Massa took fourth but was overtaken on the list by Kiesa, then the Sauber retook the position. Wurz improved to second, just over a second off Zonta, then went one better for the top of the times, 1:49.617.

In the final 10 minutes Trulli joined in fifth and Ralf in seventh, followed by Villeneuve into ninth. Albers posted eighth then lost the place to Minardi teammate Robert Doornbos, while Karthikeyan started with 12th. Ralf improved to fourth and Liuzzi to third then Villeneuve moved up to seventh. Monteiro went one ahead of Karthikeyan and Sato arrived in sixth, followed by Button in fourth.

Mark Webber's Williams posted second on his first flyer, less than a tenth off Wurz, and Fisichella took fourth. Sato and Trulli squabbled over sixth and seventh and Michael Schumacher's Ferrari arrived in 10th. Fisichella then went to the top, 1:48.619, with Zonta taking second. Wurz demoted the Renault with a 1:48.216, four tenths up. Antonio Pizzonia is standing in for Nick Hiedfeld again at Williams and joined 14th.

Michael improved to sixth, one ahead of Ralf, and Raikkonen appeared in the last few minutes. His McLaren initially took second, three tenths off Wurz. Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari clocked 10th and Button improved sixth after being moved down the order. Raikkonen took over from Wurz, just one hundredth up for 1:48.206. Right at the end Pizzonia spun and tapped the barrier and Albers also spun but managed not to hit anything.

The early track conditions made for a very slow session with all the action happening in the last 10 minutes, which was not very conclusive. McLaren, unsurprisingly, is still the team to beat. Renault's Fernando Alonso, McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya and the Red Bull race drivers did not set a time. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Wurz, Fisichella, Zonta, Webber, Button, Trulli, M. Schumacher.

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