Toyota's Cristiano da Matta put in a last second flyer to snatch the top of the times in Friday's second practice for the French Grand Prix. Da Matta's best was 1:15.518, just three hundredths slower than Rubens Barrichello's fastest in the...
Toyota's Cristiano da Matta put in a last second flyer to snatch the top of the times in Friday's second practice for the French Grand Prix. Da Matta's best was 1:15.518, just three hundredths slower than Rubens Barrichello's fastest in the morning session. The times got faster as the hour went on, although another rain shower hampered running towards the end. Renault's Jarno Trulli finished second quickest and BAR's Anthony Davidson third.
The session started drier after the earlier rain, although the track was still damp initially. Jordan third driver Timo Glock was first on the time sheet, 1:31.961 and Jaguar's Mark Webber, who didn't get any running in the first session, quickly took over with a 1:31.079. Toyota third driver Ricardo Zonta set the third fastest time and then Glock improved to the top, 1:30.287. Jordan teammate Nick Heidfeld slotted into third.
Glock improved to 1:28.725 and Jaguar third driver Bj?rn Wirdheim took second fastest, eight tenths down on the Jordan. Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner took third quickest then Marc Gen? put his Williams to the top with a 1:28.368. Davidson immediately took over with 1:27.873 and Gen? improved his time slightly to within four tenths.
Davidson then put in a 1:25.644, over two and a half seconds faster. Gen? closed the gap to two seconds and Minardi third driver Bas Leinders moved into third. Davidson kept improving, 1:24.960 on his next lap, and Zonta took second with just a tenth deficit. Glock rejoined the fray in third, although nearly two seconds down.
After the first 20 minutes activity there was a quiet spell. Webber ousted Davidson with 1:20.525 as the times dropped with the improving track conditions. Webber took it down to 1:19.307 on his next lap, then Gen? moved in with a 1:18.061. Baumgartner improved to third and Olivier Panis put his Toyota at the top, 1:18.022.
Then business started to get brisk. Gen? returned to the top with a 1:17.742 and more cars joined the circuit. BAR's Jenson Button took fastest with a 1:17.207 and within a few minutes the amount of cars on track had doubled. Both Toyota race drivers were in the top ten, both Renaults and all three BARs.
Giancarlo Fisichella was the first Sauber of the day to appear on the time sheet, 9th, he and teammate Felipe Massa not setting times in the earlier session. The new McLaren MP4-19B had its first visit to the times; Kimi Raikkonen went fastest on his first lap, 1:16.794, but was immediately dispatched by Fernando Alonso's 1:16.786. The Renault man was demoted just as swiftly by Button's 1:16.397.
Trulli was next up, 1:16.206, and Michael Schumacher showed first for Ferrari, third fastest. The second McLaren of David Coulthard was fourth, Alonso fifth and Raikkonen sixth after the burst of frantic activity. Alonso moved up one to fourth and further down the field Massa was just outside the top ten along with Jaguar's Christian Klien.
Barrichello clocked seventh and Juan Pablo Montoya, who's Williams ended up in the tyre barrier this morning, took ninth. The Jordans and Minardis were squabbling at the back by then and the midfield order was changing rapidly. Zonta Fisichella, Klien and Massa swapped and changed a few positions, Gen? leading them after being shuffled down to 12th.
Fisichella then improved to ninth and Webber moved back up the order to sixth but the front of the times remained static for a while. The top eight were within a second with 20 minutes to go and the top five within three tenths. A period of rain followed with no cars on track at all and it wasn't until the final few minutes that anyone ventured out again.
Giorgio Pantano, who's Jordan had been languishing at the bottom of the times, moved up to 19th. Da Matta catapulted from outside the top ten to fastest with a 1:15.518, and Davidson shot from 17th to third quickest. And that was the end of the day's action.
Although the track improved as the practice went on, it wasn't until Raikkonen, Alonso and Trulli's 1:16 efforts that the times were on a par with the fastest of the earlier session. Da Matta's last gasp flyer after the shower was just three hundredths off Barrichello's best in the morning but it was too late for anyone else to try and beat it.
Schumacher was the best Ferrari this time, fifth, but given the conditions there's really no conclusions to be drawn from anyone's performances. We will just have to wait and see that the weather brings tomorrow. Due to today's running being disrupted, the FIA has given extra time for the teams to make tyre selections -- final choice will be made after Saturday's practices. Final top eight classification: Da Matta, Trulli, Davidson, Button, M. Schumacher, Alonso, Coulthard, Webber.