Wurz starts European GP weekend on top

Wurz starts European GP weekend on top

Williams third driver Alex Wurz kicked off the European Grand Prix weekend with the fastest time in the first Friday practice session at the Nürburgring. His best of 1:32.079 was just over three tenths quicker than Honda counterpart Anthony ...

Williams third driver Alex Wurz kicked off the European Grand Prix weekend with the fastest time in the first Friday practice session at the N?rburgring. His best of 1:32.079 was just over three tenths quicker than Honda counterpart Anthony Davidson and BMW Sauber No.3 Robert Kubica was third.

Alexander Wurz.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The air temperature was about 20 degrees and the track some 10 degrees higher as the third drivers went out on track initially: Davidson, Adrian Sutil on duty for MF1, Kubica, Red Bull's Robert Doornbos, Wurz and Neel Jani for Toro Rosso.

The MF1 race drivers, Christijan Albers and Tiago Montiero, were also out early, along with the Super Aguris of Takuma Sato and Franck Montagny, who replaces Yuji Ide this weekend. Scott Speed's Toro Rosso appeared for an installation lap as well.

Davidson was the only man putting in any laps early on and clocked 1:40.697 to start with then lowered it to 1:36.634. Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren had a brief trip round the circuit and Wurz was the second driver to post a time, just under a tenth off Davidson.

Sutil followed into third but was demoted by Kubica and both were dropped by Doornbos taking the place. Wurz improved to the top but was immediately ousted by Doornbos, who in turn fell just as quickly to Davidson again, 1:34.730.

Kubica took third and Wurz was fourth, then came Jani, Sutil, Sato and Montagny. Kubica went up to second, four and a half tenths off Davidson, and at the time Doornbos in third was the only other driver within a second of the lead Honda.

Montagny, who hasn't driven an F1 car for a few months, was working away getting used to the Super Aguri, over four seconds off the pace but lapping only a couple of tenths off teammate Sato. The team isn't running a third car -- for the moment Ide will only undertake testing duties.

Ralf Schumacher's Toyota and Fernando Alonso's Renault went out for installation laps but there was little activity by the midway point of the session. Doornbos put in a very quick first sector and finished the lap to return to the top, 1:34.613, just over a tenth up on Davidson.

Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella and the Toyota of Jarno Trulli were next to venture out but they too only made a brief first appearance. Kubica was on a hot lap and set the fastest two sectors so far to post 1:33.995 for six tenths up on Doornbos.

Davidson and Wurz in third and fourth respectively were within a second of Kubica but the other four drivers on the time sheet were well over. Davidson was next to make a move, again the fastest first two sectors, and clocked 1:33.591 for four tenths up on Kubica.

That left everyone bar the BMW over a second adrift but Doornbos responded with a 1:33.501 to outdo Davidson by just nine hundredths. With 15 minutes remaining there were still only eight drivers on the time sheet and 12 of the other 20 had not even been out of the garage.

Kubica's 1:33.279 returned him to the top, two tenths up, and Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren ventured out for an installation lap. Montagny set a personal best to move ahead of Sato for seventh and Wurz clocked 1:32.079 to go fastest, over a second up on Kubica.

Jenson Button's Honda and Christian Klien's Red Bull appeared briefly and Monteiro finally added to the time sheet when he posted seventh. Button joined in and clocked fifth, followed by Ralf into the seventh slot. It was a popular place as Albers was next to take it.

Davidson improved to second, three tenths off Wurz, and Ralf climbed a couple of places to sixth. Speed took 11th and Rubens Barrichello's Honda was a late arrival in seventh, while Raikkonen also decided to make half an effort and clocked sixth.

Michael Schumacher's Ferrari came out in the final minutes and took fifth, while there was a brief flurry of activity and shuffling of the positions in the top eight or so. Kubica made third and Michael fourth and Barrichello went ahead of Raikkonen for seventh.

That was it, with no last gasp fliers to remove Wurz from the top. The usual inconclusive -- and quiet even by Friday morning standards -- session to start the weekend. Final top eight classification: Wurz, Davidson, Kubica, M. Schumacher, Doornbos, Button, Barrichello, Raikkonen.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Kimi Raikkonen , Anthony Davidson , Franck Montagny , Fernando Alonso , Alexander Wurz , Christijan Albers , Robert Doornbos , Scott Speed , Yuji Ide , Christian Klien , Robert Kubica
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Toro Rosso , Williams