Renault's Fernando Alonso was once again at the top of the times in Saturday morning's final practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, a blinding 1:13.823 the best of the weekend so far. Michael Schumacher's Ferrari was two tenths off for second...
Renault's Fernando Alonso was once again at the top of the times in Saturday morning's final practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, a blinding 1:13.823 the best of the weekend so far. Michael Schumacher's Ferrari was two tenths off for second and Giancarlo Fisichella consolidated Renault's pace with third.
Track temperature was around 30 degrees as Toro Rosso's Tonio Liuzzi led out, followed by the Super Aguris of Franck Montagny and Takuma Sato. The MF1s of Tiago Monteiro and Christijan Albers were also out quickly, and Fisichella.
Jacques Villeneuve's BMW Sauber was next to join the circuit but it was a slow start. After the installation laps Villeneuve was first to set a time, 1:20.950, and Jarno Trulli's Toyota ventured out for a look around. Villeneuve lowered his time to 1:18.821 and he was the only one lapping.
The second Toyota of Ralf Schumacher put in an appearance, along with McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya, and Trulli and Montagny posted second and third respectively, both over three seconds off Villeneuve. Felipe Massa's Ferrari went out for an installation lap, along with Honda's Rubens Barrichello.
Toro Rosso's Scott Speed, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher followed on, while Montoya clocked second and Monteiro third. Ralf took fourth then Massa demoted Montoya from second, half a second off Villeneuve.
Ralf posted fifth and Barrichello fourth, swiftly followed by Raikkonen into third. Monteiro moved up to second, two tenths off Villeneuve, then Michael went to the top, 1:17.505. Massa took over with a 1:17.153 and Raikkonen moved into second, less than a tenth down.
The Finn then clocked 1:17.048 for the top but was immediately demoted by Massa's 1:16.818. Montoya improved to second, a tenth off Massa, and Michael went to the top, 1:16.502 for a tenth up on teammate Massa. The McLaren pair of Montoya and Raikkonen were third and fourth.
Behind them were Villeneuve, Honda's Jenson Button, Monteiro, Barrichello, Speed and Albers making up the top ten. Liuzzi was 11th and Red Bull's Christian Klien 12th, while Fernando Alonso's Renault started with 14th and Nico Rosberg's Williams clocked eighth.
Alonso shot to the top with a 1:16.397, a tenth up on Michael, and David Coulthard's Red Bull arrived in eighth. Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber followed into ninth and Ralf improved to 12th but was demoted by the Williams of Mark Webber.
Coulthard moved up to fifth, Rosberg tagging along into sixth, then the Williams youngster improved to second, less than a tenth off Alonso. Webber moved into fifth then Massa put in a blindingly fast middle sector and clocked 1:16.263 to take over at the top.
Michael responded to the challenge of his younger teammate and posted a scorching 1:14.376, nearly two seconds up and breaking his own lap record. Wasn't he just saying on Thursday that Ferrari was off the pace? Fisichella improved to second, the gap to the Ferrari still over a second and a half.
Raikkonen closed the gap to eight tenths when he took second and Klien, who had been loitering down the times, took third, a couple of tenths off the McLaren. Montoya demoted the pair of them with second, four tenths off the lead Ferrari, but was in turn replaced by Coulthard.
Meanwhile Michael was steadily improving his top time and clocked 1:14.031, half a second up on the Scot. Alonso, who had been at the edge of the top ten, responded with a 1:13.823, two tenths up. Fisichella moved into third, followed by Coulthard and Rosberg in fourth and fifth respectively.
Montoya was sixth, then came Webber, Raikkonen, Klien and Massa making up the top ten. Monteiro was a respectful 11th, followed by Villeneuve and an equally respectful Albers in 13th. The Hondas of Barrichello and Button were a comparatively lowly 14th and 15th.
Speed took 13th off Albers, the little teams putting in a notable performance, while Massa improved on his time but remained 10th. Heidfeld moved up to 13th but the Toyotas were at the back behind Sato's Super Aguri -- strange.
Albers retaliated to take 12th and Button made an effort for eighth. Barrichello followed on into 10th. Massa took the eighth place off Button soon afterwards but there was no change at the top, Alonso leading Michael and Fisichella at the close of the session.
The surprise of the morning was Toyota, Trulli 19th and Ralf 21st -- were they struggling or just minding their own business? Qualifying looks set to be a battle between Renault and Ferrari but anything can happen at Monaco. Final top eight classification: Alonso, M. Schumacher, Fisichella, Coulthard, Rosberg, Montoya, Webber, Massa.