McLaren third driver Alex Wurz topped the times in the first practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, his best lap around the Interlagos circuit a 1:11.701. BAR's Takuma Sato, who recently found out he's out of a race seat with the team next...
McLaren third driver Alex Wurz topped the times in the first practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, his best lap around the Interlagos circuit a 1:11.701. BAR's Takuma Sato, who recently found out he's out of a race seat with the team next season, was just over a second behind the McLaren and Fernando Alonso's Renault was third.
The conditions were fine, track temperature around 40 degrees and the air in the mid twenties as Wurz led out for installation laps. Jordan No.3 Nicolas Kiesa tagged along, followed by Toyota and Red Bull counterparts Ricardo Zonta and Tonio Liuzzi. Minardi is not running a third car today as tester Enrico Toccacelo is competing in the first round of the new A1GP series at Brands Hatch in the UK.
Minardis race drivers Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos, and the Jordans of Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro also appeared. Jacques Villeneuve and Felipe Massa's Saubers were next out, while Zonta was the first to set out on a flyer. He clocked 1:16.640 to start with and, meanwhile, the BARs of Sato and Jenson Button popped out for an installation lap.
Zonta dropped his time to 1:15.628 then Wurz took over with a 1:15.370. Liuzzi arrived in third and Wurz was still putting in the times, his next a 1:14.581. David Coulthard and Christian Klien's Red Bulls appeared briefly, as did the Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Alonso. Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren also ventured out for a lap but the third drivers were the only ones on the time sheet.
Kiesa took the fourth spot, just over three seconds off Wurz after a few laps, but there was scant track action in the first half hour -- some drivers had wobbly moments on the infamous bumps of Interlagos just on their installation laps. Zonta improved his time to half a second down on the lead McLaren but then Wurz upped his pace to 1:14.072, leaving the Toyota nearly a second adrift.
Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren and Ralf Schumacher's Toyota went out for an installation lap, while Wurz continued to lower his time, the next a 1:13.898. Sato posted second on his first flyer, a tenth and a half off, then took over at the top, 1:13.717. Zonta put in a 1:13.573 to demote the BAR, while Villeneuve appeared in fifth and Albers in seventh. Doornbos slotted in behind his teammate for eighth.
Michael Schumacher's Ferrari posted fourth on his first timed effort and Monteiro clocked 10th. The second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello took eighth and Monteiro improved to go ahead of the Minardis. Barrichello moved up to fifth and Karthikeyan joined 12th, followed Button in eighth. Karthikeyan also went ahead of the Minardis, behind Monteiro, and with 15 minutes go there was still 11 drivers yet to set a time.
Button improved to fourth and Alonso and Fisichella lapped in formation to post first and sixth respectively, Alonso's top time being 1:13.338. The Spaniard then improved marginally to 1:13.256 but Wurz was setting fastest sectors on his way round and clocked 1:11.701 for a second and a half up on the Renault. Fisichella moved up to third behind Alonso.
Meanwhile, Coulthard had appeared in 11th then improved to seventh. In the last 10 minutes only the Williams' of Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia had not been out for an installation lap. Montoya clocked sixth on his first flyer and the Toyota of Jarno Trulli 11th on his. Sato returned to second, just over a second off Wurz, and Montoya climbed a couple of places to fourth.
Ralf took eighth when he got on the time sheet and Klein ninth, but they both dropped one when Trulli improved to the eighth spot. Ralf had another go and went up to seventh and Klien did likewise to take back the ninth place. Pizzonia started with a lowly 20th then shot up to sixth and Raikkonen posted a leisurely 10th. Webber took ninth and Button improved to third behind teammate Sato.
Raikkonen climbed to fourth and Fisichella moved ahead of Alonso for fifth after dropping down the times. Alonso retaliated by taking third but time was quickly ticking away. There were one or two changes of position down the field in the final few minutes but no change at the top, the familiar presence of a McLaren third driver leading the way.
So far so good; McLaren, BAR and Renault looked pretty handy, with Williams not far behind but, as usual, the early times are not necessarily indicative. Massa was the only one not to set a time, for reasons unknown, although he did complete a handful of laps. Final top eight classification: Wurz, Sato, Alonso, Button, Raikkonen, Fisichella, Montoya, Pizzonia.