Davidson sets the pace on Chinese GP Friday

Davidson sets the pace on Chinese GP Friday

Anthony Davidson made his mark on the new Shanghai track by being the fastest man overall in the Friday practice sessions for the Chinese Grand Prix. The BAR third driver clocked 1:33.289 in the second session, bettering his own fastest in the...

Anthony Davidson made his mark on the new Shanghai track by being the fastest man overall in the Friday practice sessions for the Chinese Grand Prix. The BAR third driver clocked 1:33.289 in the second session, bettering his own fastest in the first by just over two seconds. Teammate Jenson Button was second quickest in the afternoon, followed by the McLaren duo of Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard.

The spectacular Shanghai International Circuit architecture.
Photo by LAT Photographic.

The track conditions were initially similar to the earlier session and the Jaguars were first to make an impression. Mark Webber clocked 1:37.994, followed by third driver Bj?rn Wirdheim. Toyota No.3 Ryan Briscoe was quick to take over second place, while Minardi and Jordan third drivers Bas Leinders and Robert Doornbos slotted in behind.

Christian Klien put his Jaguar sixth and Renault's Fernando Alonso took third. Ricardo Zonta posted 1:37.413 for the top in the Toyota but was immediately demoted by Ralf Schumacher's Williams with a 1:36.889. Olivier Panis' Toyota made fifth and Alonso was next to the top, 1:36.814.

Jordan's Timo Glock and the Minardi race drivers joined the action and it was a busy first 15 minutes. Michael Schumacher's Ferrari took over second, then Jenson Button went to the top, 1:36.126 for the BAR, followed by the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya in turn was demoted by Rubens Barrichello, the Ferrari just three hundredths down on Button.

Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella took seventh and teammate Felipe Massa hurtled to the top of the times with a 1:35.508. Michael was hot on his heels into second, three tenths down. BAR's Takuma Sato came to a halt in the final sector with a blown engine and then it calmed down a little.

Raikkonen was next to make a move, posting sixth in the McLaren on his first flyer and teammate Coulthard clocked eighth. Webber improved to seventh then Raikkonen shot to the top, 1:35.370 for just over a tenth up on Massa. Panis improved to fourth and after 20 minutes the top 10 were covered by less than a second.

After being shuffled down the order, Alonso moved back up the field to third and Wirdheim climbed to 13th. Barrichello demoted Raikkonen by three tenths when the Ferrari clocked 1:35.045, the fastest time of the day so far. Ralf improved to fifth and Briscoe to sixth, while Button took over the top spot with a 1:34.787, the first into the predicted lap time area.

Further down the field Jacques Villeneuve's Renault was 17th, followed by the Jordan race drivers with Nick Heidfeld ahead of Glock. Zsolt Baumgartner headed the Minardi trio, with Doornbos Jordan in amongst them. Heidfeld improved his time but stayed 18th and by half way through the session only BAR's Davidson had yet to set a time.

He did so shortly afterwards and made 12th, while Zonta rapidly climbed back up the ranks to third quickest. Glock improved ahead of Heidfeld and Briscoe made three Toyotas in the top ten with eighth. Raikkonen had a flying middle sector to post 1:34.648 at the top, just over a tenth up on Button.

Coulthard made a move to fifth and Villeneuve was regularly improving his time but not managing to move from 17th. Button ousted Raikkonen with a 1:34.177, nearly half a second up and only the top four were within a second at that time. Barrichello moved up one place to second, closing the gap to Button to two tenths.

Montoya clawed his way back to 10th and Villeneuve finally escaped the clutches of 17th to move up to 14th. Ralf and Michael improved in tandem, Schumacher Junior getting the better to clock fourth, Michael fifth. Massa improved to eighth and Raikkonen moved into second, just over a tenth down on Button.

Fisichella clocked fourth in the closing stages and Button improved his top time to 1:34.174. Coulthard took third and Baumgartner made a good effort for 19th and Davidson put in a flyer that put him nearly nine tenths ahead of Button, 1:33.289. That was seemingly enough of a surprise to make everyone else give up for the day.

So far BAR is looking very on the pace, with McLaren not far behind. However, Sato will suffer the ten place grid demotion penalty for his engine failure, which is not good news for BAR. Ferrari and Williams were up and down a little, as was Renault. Alonso put in his usual good efforts but Villeneuve can't really be criticised too much seeing as he's not been in an F1 car for a year save for testing last week.

Sauber and Toyota showed the best pace of the rest, while Jaguar was somewhat off the pace down in the midfield. Jordan and Minardi squabbled amongst themselves at the back and Sato never posted a time after his earlier problem. Baumgartner did well to hold 19th, just a few tenths behind Heidfeld and ahead of Klien's Jaguar.

The new track does not appear to be giving anyone any major problems but it won't be until tomorrow's qualifying that the gloves will come off for real. Final top eight classification: Davidson, Button, Raikkonen, Coulthard, Barrichello, Fisichella, R. Schumacher, M. Schumacher.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan