Michael Schumacher set the pace in the final practice session for the Turkish Grand Prix, the Ferrari man's best time of 1:27.203 the fastest of the weekend so far. Title rival Fernando Alonso was second fastest and his Renault teammate Giancarlo...
Michael Schumacher set the pace in the final practice session for the Turkish Grand Prix, the Ferrari man's best time of 1:27.203 the fastest of the weekend so far. Title rival Fernando Alonso was second fastest and his Renault teammate Giancarlo Fisichella was fractionally behind in third.
The track temperature was in the mid thirties at the beginning of the session and MF1's Christijan Albers was the first man out on the circuit. Super Aguri's Takuma Sato and the second MF1 of Tiago Monteiro followed on but all three only did installation laps initially. Tonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso was next to go out and he set the first time of 1:34.759.
Sato returned and posted 1:33.964 for nearly eight tenths up then Liuzzi narrowed the gap to half a tenth. Sato replied with a 1:32.467 to leave Liuzzi a second and a half adrift. Ralf Schumacher's Toyota took over with a 1:31.468 and Nico Rosberg put his Williams third. The sister Toyota of Jarno Trulli posted fourth.
Kimi Raikkonen put his McLaren to the top on his first flyer, 1:31.163, but Ralf came back with a 1:30.746. Pedro de la Rosa's McLaren took the third slot then Raikkonen's 1:30.179 demoted Ralf again. Rosberg and the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld were trading third and fourth and Heidfeld's teammate Robert Kubica joined in.
Christian Klien put his Red Bull in the mix too, while Albers took sixth and Alonso started with 11th. Behind him came Monteiro and the Super Aguri of Sakon Yamamoto. Schumacher's Ferrari went straight to the top on his first effort, 1:29.078 for a second up on Raikkonen.
Fisichella appeared in seventh, followed by the Honda of Rubens Barrichello, and Michael lowered his time to 1:28.318. Raikkonen was then nearly two seconds off, then came Heidfeld, Klien, Ralf and Fisichella. Jenson Button put his Honda eighth behind de la Rosa and Button and Kubica made up the top 10.
Klien improved to second and Fisichella to fifth then Klien was ousted by Ferrari's Felipe Massa, six tenths off Michael. Alonso moved up to seventh and Scott Speed's Toro Rosso took the 10th spot ahead of Trulli. Massa lowered his time to under two tenths off his teammate but the rest were over a second adrift.
Speed jumped up to fourth and Button moved into ninth after being shuffled down the order. Liuzzi clocked 14th and Button was still going, his next improvement putting him fifth. David Coulthard put his Red Bull third on his first effort, one ahead of teammate Klien but still over a second off the lead Ferrari.
Williams' Mark Webber was last to set a time, four seconds off the pace at the bottom of the list. Ralf climbed to fourth and Monteiro to 12th, while Sato improved to take 16th and Webber struggled up to 20th. Raikkonen, who had been moved down the list, went up to second, just half a tenth off Michael, and Kubica likewise improved to ninth.
Sato and Webber were still on the move, up to 14th and 16th respectively, and Klien went ahead of Coulthard for fourth. Alonso, who had been lounging outside the top ten, finally ousted Michael with a 1:27.924, four tenths up. It was short lived as the German came back and clocked 1:27.591 to retake the top spot.
Speed worked his way back up the order to seventh but was dropped one when teammate Liuzzi hurtled up from the back to take the place. They were both demoted when Fisichella and Button improved in tandem to sixth and seventh respectively. Rosberg had been down near the back but suddenly jumped up to seventh.
The shuffling continued as Button and Fisichella were still lapping and Massa gained a place to third. Fisichella took the place off him, just fractionally behind teammate Alonso, and Heidfeld jumped up to fourth after being moved outside the top 10. Barrichello made a similar move up to sixth and Trulli to ninth.
Kubica did likewise to take the fourth spot, followed by Button into sixth, while Michael did a last gasp flyer to post 1:27.203. That left Alonso seven tenths off, with Fisichella and Kubica less than a tenth behind. Heidfeld and Button in fifth and sixth were the last within a second of Michael, although Massa in seventh was only marginally off.
Ferrari, Renault, BMW and Honda made up the top eight positions while Raikkonen and Klien completed the top 10. It looks likely that Ferrari and Renault will fight for pole in qualifying but there's room for surprises. Final top eight classification: M. Schumacher, Alonso, Fisichella, Kubica, Heidfeld, Button, Massa, Barrichello.