Kimi Raikkonen set the pace in the final practice for the Australian Grand Prix, the Ferrari clocking 1:26.064 on a track that was declared wet at the start of the session. Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella was second fastest, just under four tenths...
Kimi Raikkonen set the pace in the final practice for the Australian Grand Prix, the Ferrari clocking 1:26.064 on a track that was declared wet at the start of the session. Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella was second fastest, just under four tenths off, and Lewis Hamilton impressed again for McLaren in third.
Spyker's Christijan Albers was the first man on track, followed by Toyota's Jarno Trulli and the Renault of Fisichella. Scott Speed and Tonio Liuzzi's Toro Rossos and Adrian Sutil's Spyker were next out, the second Renault of Heikki Kovalainen and the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Hamilton.
The Williams duo of Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz also put in an appearance, along with Honda's Jenson Button, but it was all just installation laps to start with. Toyota's Ralf Schumacher and Super Aguri's Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sao did likewise but with 10 minutes gone there was no serious action.
The Honda of Rubens Barrichello duly did his installation lap and Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber followed suit. Nearly 20 minutes into the session Albers was first to set a time, 1:35.202, but was immediately demoted by teammate Sutil's 1:34.506. The second BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica appeared and Sutil lowered his time to 1:31.177.
Fisichella was on a flyer and took over at the top with a 1:29.866 while Trulli and Barrichello slotted into third and fourth between the Spykers. David Coulthard was the first Red Bull to make an appearance and Fisichella was still out there, his next a 1:29.065. Raikkonen led out for Ferrari and Davidson put his Super Aguri fifth.
Still going, Fisichella improved to 1:28.366 and Trulli moved up to second, one and a half seconds off. Liuzzi took the fifth spot, Schumacher eighth and Button ninth. Raikkonen went straight to the top on his first flyer 1:28.154, while Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa ventured out for his initial laps. Alonso demoted Raikkonen with a 1:27.612.
Sato clocked sixth and Raikkonen's 1:26.616 returned him to the top, nearly a second up on Alonso. Massa arrived in second, seven tenths off Raikkonen, and meanwhile both BMWs were in the top six, followed by Speed in seventh. Coulthard took the sixth spot and Hamilton went one better for fifth, then Kubica went better still for fourth.
Mark Webber's Red Bull started with 16th and Hamilton improved to third. Wurz clocked seventh and Massa removed Raikkonen from the top with a 1:26.608, just eight thousandths up. Rosberg followed teammate Wurz up the times to sixth but then caused a yellow flag when he stopped on track in the first sector.
When the track was green Davidson jumped up to 11th from down the field and Kovalainen likewise to ninth. Heidfeld improved to sixth after being moved down the order, making it two Ferraris, two McLarens and two BMWs at the front end. Hamilton third and Alonso fourth were within a second of the Ferraris, the BMWs just outside.
With about 10 minutes to go Raikkonen's 1:26.106 removed Massa from the top, half a second up. Fisichella then improved to second, the gap just under four tenths. Webber went up to sixth but immediately dropped when Davidson shot up to fifth, but the Super Aguri also fell when Heidfeld and Kovalainen took fourth and fifth respectively.
Sato improved to 13th from near the back, followed by Button into 14th. A bit worrying for Honda to have both Super Aguris in front of them. Hamilton climbed back to third and Schumacher and Trulli, who had been way down the field, improved to 11th and 12th respectively. Barrichello went up from 19th to 14th, ahead of one of the Super Aguris at least.
In the last minutes Alonso, who had been shuffled down to eighth, climbed a couple of places to sixth and Wurz moved back into the top 10, ninth. Davidson improved again right at the end, this time to fourth, and Sato did likewise to ninth. Super Aguri is looking amazingly improved but will it last on Sunday?
It was quite an interesting session, with Ferrari and McLaren on the pace but Renault and BMW were up there too. However, for this session anyway, the Ferraris overall appeared to be the best. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Fisichella, Hamilton, Davidson, Massa, Heidfeld, Alonso, Kovalainen.