F1

Raikkonen wraps up European GP Friday

Raikkonen wraps up European GP Friday

Kimi Raikkonen revived McLaren's flagging fortunes by setting the fastest time of the day in the second Friday practice for the European Grand Prix. His best of 1:29.355 was just under a tenth quicker than Anthony Davidson in the first session.

Kimi Raikkonen revived McLaren's flagging fortunes by setting the fastest time of the day in the second Friday practice for the European Grand Prix. His best of 1:29.355 was just under a tenth quicker than Anthony Davidson in the first session. Second on the time sheet behind Raikkonen was BAR's Jenson Button, and Ralf Schumacher's Williams was on the pace in third.

Kimi Raikkonen.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.

The temperature was slightly higher than the morning session, the track some ten degrees warmer. The action was quickly under way, Toyota third driver Ricardo Zonta setting a benchmark of 1:31.826 at the start. He was swiftly displaced by BAR third driver Anthony Davidson, 1:30.905, while McLaren's David Coulthard and Raikkonen took third and fourth fastest respectively.

Other top ten runners in the early stages were Sauber's Felipe Massa, the pair of Toyota race drivers and Jaguar third driver Bj?rn Wirdheim. The Jordan's were just outside the first ten along with the Jaguar race drivers. Michael Schumacher took second fastest on his first flyer, the Ferrari four tenths down on Davidson.

Ralf put his Williams sixth, teammate Juan Pablo Montoya 10th, and Button took fourth quickest. Takuma Sato also made the top ten. Rubens Barrichello moved his Ferrari to second but Christian Klien's Jaguar had a trip into the gravel. Button improved to third and Giancarlo Fisichella, who was sidelined with an engine problem in the earlier session, put his Sauber seventh.

Mark Webber had a better time than teammate Klien, taking second fastest, just under two tenths off Davidson. Fernando Alonso was outside the top ten on his first flyer but Renault teammate Jarno Trulli made a better effort for eighth. Wirdheim improved to 13th and Massa to 10th after being moved down the order.

Raikkonen shifted Davidson from the top spot with a 1:30.026, Michael taking second with a gap of two tenths. Coulthard took third but then Barrichello demoted Raikkonen by just eight hundredths, 1:29.943. Alonso improved to sixth and Montoya moved up to fourth, but both dropped two slots when Trulli went third fastest then Ralf fourth.

Positions held static at the top for a while; Sato returned to the top ten after being shuffled down the times and there were some minor improvements in the midfield. Massa was the second casualty, his Sauber stopping in the middle sector with an electrical problem. Davidson worked his way back up the times, posting third, and it was much closer this time around -- after 45 minutes the top 12 were within a second and the top three within eight hundredths.

Heading into the final minutes, Trulli took over the top, 1:29.919 -- the Renault lapped at the same time as the McLarens and the silver pair took a quick one-two, Raikkonen's 1:29.355 at the top and Coulthard three tenths off. Ralf split them, marginally ahead of Coulthard, and he in turn was demoted by Button.

McLaren was on form but it may be best to reserve judgement on that, as it was the same in Monaco and neither driver finished the race. But it's good to see Raikkonen at the top of the times. Barrichello was the best Ferrari, sixth, and Michael was ninth but that really can't be taken as an indication of their form. Michael was hampered by a hydraulic problem that curtailed his track time.

No surprise to see both Renaults in the top eight, along with Button and Davidson. A much closer session, with the top five within half a second and the end and the first 11 within a second. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Button, R. Schumacher, Coulthard, Trulli, Barrichello, Davidson, Alonso.

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