After Friday afternoon's washout, track action resumed at Spa-Francorchamps in the Saturday morning practices for the Belgian Grand Prix. Renault's Fernando Alonso was the fastest man at the end of the sessions with a best of 1:46.307 and McLaren...
After Friday afternoon's washout, track action resumed at Spa-Francorchamps in the Saturday morning practices for the Belgian Grand Prix. Renault's Fernando Alonso was the fastest man at the end of the sessions with a best of 1:46.307 and McLaren rival Kimi Raikkonen was three tenths behind in second. Toyota's Jarno Trulli was third quickest.
The conditions were misty and the track damp, although declared wet, as Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren led out for the installation laps, followed by the Minardi of Christijan Albers and the Red Bull of Christian Klien. Jacques Villeneuve's Sauber was next in line, along with Raikkonen and the second Red Bull of David Coulthard.
Robert Doornbos' Minardi was next to appear, then the Jordans of Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro. The Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello also ventured out and after half an hour it was Coulthard who finally set the first time, 1:57.519. He was swiftly overtaken by teammate Klien's 1:57.048.
Coulthard came back with 1:55.618, nearly a second and a half up, and Klien retaliated with 1:55.323. Ralf Schumacher's Toyota joined in third and Coulthard went back to the top, 1:54.255. Klien's next was 1:53.380 and Ralf moved in to second, three and a half tenths off, with Coulthard just a few hundredths behind.
Takuma Sato's BAR joined the little party to take second, nine hundredths down on Klien, then Michael took over at the top, 1:52.069. He was immediately demoted by Ralf's 1:51.973. Jenson Button appeared one ahead of teammate Sato in fifth and the Williams of Antonio Pizzonia posted seventh.
Trulli's Toyota joined ninth, one behind Monteiro, and Sato improved to third. Michael returned to the top with a 1:51.078 but Button's 1:50.616 immediately ousted him. Karthikeyan and the Sauber of Felipe Massa joined the time sheet in ninth and 10th, then the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella took the 10th spot.
Montoya arrived in third and Pizzonia improved to fifth, while Albers and Villeneuve posted 15th and 16th respectively. Massa went up to seventh and Sato to third, followed by Fisichella into fifth. Montoya was next to the top, 1:49.972, and teammate Raikkonen clocked fifth on his first flyer, while the Williams of Mark Webber started with seventh.
Alonso went straight to the top on his first effort, 1:49.337, and Fisichella improved to third. Further down the list, Klien and Coulthard improved in tandem to eighth and 10th after being shuffled down the order. Alonso lowered his time to 1:49.286 and was then taken over by Fisichella's 1:49.147.
Raikkonen replied with a 1:48.658 and Michael improved to fifth, and right at the end of the session Raikkonen clocked 1:48.125, with Montoya slotting in behind, four tenths off. So it was the two McLarens followed by the two Renaults, Raikkonen leading Montoya, Fisichella and Alonso. Williams and BAR also seemed fairly competitive.
Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello, who did not set a time in the first practice, was quickly to work at the start of the second and for the first time this weekend the track was not declared wet. Barrichello clocked 1:52.007 initially then Sato took over with a 1:50.856. Michael followed on and posted 1:49.449 and Villeneuve slotted into second.
Button, Fisichella and Trulli arrived in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively then Massa demoted them all by taking the fifth place. Alonso clocked second, three and a half tenths off Michael, and Coulthard started with eighth. Fisichella was next to the top, 1:48.909 for half a second up on Michael.
Trulli improved to fifth and Alonso and Sato to third and fourth after being moved down the order slightly. Ralf then took the fourth position and Klien arrived in 10th, while Fisichella lowered his time to 1:48.658. Raikkonen went to the top on his first flyer, 1:48.090, and Ralf improved to third. Webber started with sixth then lost the spot to Barrichello.
Raikkonen dropped his time to 1:47.511, over a second up on Fisichella, and Montoya went straight to the top on his first effort, 1:47.463. Massa went up to fourth after being moved outside the top ten and Michael climbed one place to fifth. Fisichella returned to the top with a 1:47.420, just four hundredths up on Montoya.
Alonso set fastest sectors in one and two to demote his teammate by half a second, 1:46.920, while Barrichello and Sato improved in tandem to fifth and sixth respectively. Button then took the sixth spot and Klien worked his way back up to eighth. Webber took seventh and at the back of the pack Karthikeyan led the Jordans and Minardis in 17th.
Michael climbed to fifth after being moved down the times and Montoya returned to the top with a 1:46.858, six hundredths up on Alonso. Sato improved to fourth, then Button to third, and Alonso replied to Montoya with 1:46.307, half a second up. Fisichella took third and Trulli shot up to second from down in the midfield.
Albers made an effort to get his Minardi up to 15th and Massa improved to 13th after being shuffled down. Raikkonen took second, three tenths off Alonso, and that was the end of the session. Renault looks much closer to McLaren's pace around here so we may perhaps get more of a fight instead of McLaren flying off into the distance.
Toyota and BAR were in the mix as well, although Williams dropped off the pace a bit, and both Ferraris were in the top ten. With his qualifying performances one would have to see Raikkonen as a serious contender for pole but after Saturday morning it really could be any of half a dozen. Final top eight classification: Alonso, Raikkonen, Trulli, Montoya, Fisichella, R. Schumacher, Button, Sato.