In damp conditions at the Shanghai circuit Michael Schumacher set the top time in the last practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix, the Ferrari man's best of 1:40.193 just under two tenths up on Renault's Fernando Alonso. Jenson Button's Honda...
In damp conditions at the Shanghai circuit Michael Schumacher set the top time in the last practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix, the Ferrari man's best of 1:40.193 just under two tenths up on Renault's Fernando Alonso. Jenson Button's Honda was third quickest, followed by the two Toro Rossos making the most of the slippery track.
It was a cool morning and the track was officially declared wet for the session. The Toro Rossos of Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed were first out, then the Toyotas of Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli and the Super Aguris of Takuma Sato and Sakon Yamamoto. The Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Alonso also made an early appearance.
The formation continued with the Spyker MF1s of Christijan Albers and Tiago Monteiro and Ralf clocked the first time of the day, 1:48.812, with Trulli over a second down. Nico Rosberg's Williams and the Ferrari of Felipe Massa joined the track, then the Hondas of Rubens Barrichello ad Button and the second Williams of Mark Webber.
Rosberg took third behind the Toyotas -- Ralf had lowered his time to 1:47.994 -- then Speed took over at the top with a 1:47.321. Rosberg moved into second, a tenth and a half off, and Button was next to go fastest, 1:46.210. Webber posted fourth on his first flyer and David Coulthard's Red Bull arrived in second, two tenths off Button.
Speed was still lapping and his next of 1:45.634 put him back to the top, with Coulthard half a second behind. Barrichello slotted into fifth on his first effort and Yamamoto managed ninth. Monteiro took the place off him and Robert Doornbos put his Red Bull second, just three hundredths off Speed. Albers started with eighth, splitting the Toyotas.
Massa went straight to the top on his first timed lap, 1:45.447, while Sato posted 14th and the McLaren of Pedro de la Rosa headed out for an installation lap. After 20 minutes only four drivers had not visited the track; McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, Michael and the BMW Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica.
There was a lull in activity for a while with only one or two cars out on the circuit. Trulli gained a couple of places to ninth after being moved down the order, while Doornbos and Coulthard were putting in a few laps. After about 10 minutes Coulthard moved into the top spot, 1:45.253, and Doornbos followed into second, two tenths down.
Liuzzi went back out and posted sixth -- great for Red Bull to have it and Toro Rosso's cars in the top six but seeing as no-one else was on track it was not as good as it looked. Massa third and Button fifth were the interlopers in the Red Bull line up, while Webber, Albers, Barrichello and Trulli made up the top 10 with 15 minutes to go.
A few drivers returned to the track to have another go, Ralf moving up to fifth from just outside the top 10. Yamamoto improved to eighth and Michael started with a lowly 16th then took to the top of the times with a 1:43.048, over two seconds up on Coulthard. Sato, surprisingly, then took second, 1.6 off the Ferrari.
It was short lived as Button moved into the position, the gap 1.2. Yamamoto's charge was cut short when his Super Aguri spun in the middle sector but Sato was still going, returning to second with a deficit of six and a half tenths to Michael. De la Rosa posted third and Rosberg improved to fifth after being shuffled down the order.
Alonso took the sixth spot and Fisichella 12th, while Rosberg stayed out and moved up to second but was immediately demoted by Albers. Michael improved his time to 1:41.259 and de la Rosa was next to take second, while Heidfeld appeared in 18th. Webber climbed to sixth and Liuzzi to fifth, with Michael lowering his time again to 1:40.193.
Fisichella jumped up into second but immediately lost out to Button and Webber then Liuzzi and Speed in quick succession. Alonso took the second spot right at the end, just under two tenths off Michael, and the session closed with neither Raikkonen nor Kubica setting a time. Heidfeld was a late improver to 13th.
Despite the slippery conditions Michael and Alonso were still at the sharp end -- will we see them sharing the front row in qualifying? The track was improved by the end of the session but the weather is still unsettled. Final top eight classification: M. Schumacher, Alonso, Button, Liuzzi, Speed, Webber, Albers, Fisichella.