Rubens Barrichello was the fastest man in the Saturday morning practices for the Italian Grand Prix, the Ferrari finishing with a best time of 1:20.555. Juan Pablo Montoya, who had topped the first session, was second, the Williams just nine ...
Rubens Barrichello was the fastest man in the Saturday morning practices for the Italian Grand Prix, the Ferrari finishing with a best time of 1:20.555. Juan Pablo Montoya, who had topped the first session, was second, the Williams just nine hundredths behind Barrichello, and BAR's Jenson Button was third.
Conditions were cool and dry, temperature in the low twenties, as the cars took to the track for installation laps. Nick Heidfeld was first to set a time, the Jordan posting 1:25.337, and Minardi's Gianmaria Bruni slotted in behind, but it was a slow first 20 minutes. Mark Webber clocked the next fastest, 1:23.438 for the Jaguar, and the second Jordan of Giorgio Pantano made four on the time sheet.
Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner was next to arrive, posting fourth ahead of his teammate, and Barrichello put his Ferrari to the top, 1:22.711. The Brazilian then went for another flyer and bought his time down to 1:21.855. Michael Schumacher joined in second fastest, eight tenths down on his teammate.
Christian Klien got his Jaguar on track but with half an hour gone it was still very quiet. Antonio Pizzonia's Williams demoted Schumacher from the second spot but Michael took it back again on his next lap, closing the gap to Barrichello to a tenth. Toyota's Ricardo Zonta arrived in fourth fastest and things began to liven up a little.
Pizzonia took over at the top, 1:21.723, and the second Toyota of Olivier Panis took fifth. Renault's Fernando Alonso demoted Pizzonia with a 1:21.705 and Jarno Trulli, Alonso's teammate, slotted into seventh. Felipe Massa put his Sauber seventh and Jenson Button was the first BAR out, sixth.
Montoya's Williams took over the top spot with a 1:21.700 and both Mclarens appeared, Kimi Raikkonen sixth and David Coulthard eighth. The second Sauber of Giancarlo Fisichella clocked 11th and Takuma Sato was the last man to set a time, the BAR taking fifth.
Bruni got his Minardi ahead of both Jordans in the final minutes and Webber made a late improvement to 12th after being shuffled down to the midfield. He was demoted shortly afterwards by Trulli doing the same. There was no change at the top, Montoya holding fastest from Alonso by just five thousandths of a second and Pizzonia two hundredths behind.
The track temperature had climbed marginally by the start of the second practice and Raikkonen was quickly out on track. The Finn clocked 1:22.137 to start with and Zonta and Panis followed into second and third. Button and Alonso traded second fastest with Zonta for a couple of laps, Alonso retaining the position, four tenths off Raikkonen.
Montoya was next to take it, closing the gap to the McLaren to just one hundredth. Massa made fifth, Button sixth and Klien, Heidfeld and Fisichella completed the top ten. Montoya had another flyer and ousted Raikkonen with a 1:21.605, half a second up,
Pantano lost control of his Jordan braking into the chicane and collected Baumgartner's Minardi, sending them both off. It was not a serious incident and the session continued under yellow flags until the cars were moved.
Schumacher was the first improvement when the track was clear and went up to fourth, followed in quick succession by Alonso and Barrichello. The champion retaliated by taking second, just under three tenths off Montoya. Trulli made third quickest, then Barrichello took second, seven hundredths off the Williams.
Sato managed sixth quickest and Zonta improved to seventh after being demoted. Alonso had also been shuffled down and came back with the fastest time in all three sectors to clock 1:20.987. Montoya took up the challenge and posted 1:20.653 to take over and Button popped up into second, eight hundredths down.
Coulthard improved to fourth and Raikkonen went one ahead of the Scot; the top four were separated by four tenths at that time. Alonso and Raikkonen were setting the pace through the speed trap on the long straight, averaging 364 kmph without the aid of a slipstream.
Barrichello spun at the first chicane but managed not to hit anything, and Schumacher improved to fourth. Barrichello made amends for his spin by going fastest, 1:20.555 for nine hundredths up on Montoya. Alonso climbed back up to fourth and then time was up.
The end of the session saw the top eight separated by under four tenths. The usual suspects made the first ten; there was really not much to choose between them and with such close times it's pointless trying to predict who might gain the upper hand in qualifying -- it could be any one of half a dozen.
The Saubers, Jaguars and Toyotas made up the midfield as usual and Jordan and Minardi held station at the back. Final top eight classification: Barrichello, Montoya, Button, Alonso, Sato, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Pizzonia.