Pedro de la Rosa carried his pace through from the morning to the afternoon free practice at Imola on Friday and set the fastest time of the day. McLaren's third driver clocked 1:20.484, half a second up on his own best time of the previous...
Pedro de la Rosa carried his pace through from the morning to the afternoon free practice at Imola on Friday and set the fastest time of the day. McLaren's third driver clocked 1:20.484, half a second up on his own best time of the previous session. BAR's Jenson Button was second quickest and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen was third.
The track temperature was edging towards forty degrees as the pack came out for installation laps, Red Bull's Christian Klien leading the way. He set the first time, 1:26.202, followed by Jordan third driver Robert Doornbos. De la Rosa took over at the top with a 1:24.230, but was immediately demoted by teammate Raikkonen, 1:22.945.
Toyota third driver Ricardo Zonta took third and Red Bull's Tonio Liuzzi fourth, then Raikkonen improved his time to 1:22.258. The third Red Bull of David Coulthard slotted into fourth and Sauber's Felipe Massa into sixth. Rubens Barrichello posted fifth in the Ferrari and teammate Michael Schumacher clocked seventh on his first effort.
Jacques Villeneuve put his Sauber ninth and Giancarlo Fisichella was the first Renault on the time sheet for the day, eighth. Barrichello climbed to second then Button shot to the top, 1:21.052 for over a second up on Raikkonen. Massa improved to seventh after dropping down the order and Fisichella moved up to sixth. Takuma Sato also had a good first flyer in his BAR to slot into third.
Michael went up to fourth and further down the field Toyota's Ralf Schumacher took ninth. The McLaren of Alex Wurz posted fifth and Villeneuve moved back up to 12th and Massa to ninth, while Jarno Trulli had his first timed lap of the day, 10th for Toyota. Villeneuve had another go for ninth and further down the field, Liuzzi was 18th in amongst the Jordans and Minardi's Patrick Friesacher.
Ninth was proving popular with the Sauber drivers and Massa took the spot when he came back up the field. De la Rosa climbed to sixth after his demotion and Coulthard posted 12th, then Fisichella improved to second although the Renault was over a second off Button's BAR. He was immediately ousted by Barrichello, who closed the gap to Button to fractionally under a second.
Liuzzi improved his time to go ahead of the Jordans of Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro but was still down in 16th. The Williams' of Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber took 14th and 16th respectively and Monteiro moved ahead of Karthikeyan to lead the trio of Jordans. Doornbos had a trip into the gravel and tapped the wall enough to lose his front wing, but he managed to get back to the pits.
Massa improved to seventh and Villeneuve to eighth, while Renault's Fernando Alonso finally got out for his first flying lap of the weekend. The Spaniard clocked 11th after a slow third sector, then moved up to eighth on his next effort. Wurz improved to third and Raikkonen bettered his own time and the gap to Button came down to six tenths.
Trulli went up one place to 12th ahead of teammate Zonta, while Ralf spun at Varienta Alta after getting a bit out of shape over the kerb. De la Rosa, who had been lurking outside the top ten, set fastest sectors across the board to take over at the top with a 1:20.484, half a second up on Button. Alonso improved to fourth but apart from Button everyone was over a second off the pace of the lead McLaren.
In the last few minutes Michael climbed to fifth and Zonta to fourth but there was little change in the order elsewhere. Minardi's Christijan Albers did not set a time. McLaren and BAR still looked pretty handy and Ferrari was solidly in the top ten, if not particularly notable. Renault appeared a little cautious and Toyota was rather quiet.
Sauber seemed to be the most improved since the morning session but unfortunately for Massa the team has decided to change his engine, as it was showing signs of a drop in performance. He will therefore suffer the 10 place grid demotion penalty in qualifying.
Williams was well outside the top ten, along with Red Bull but Williams often does not show its true pace on Friday. Karthikeyan put in a good effort for 17th, ahead of the likes of Webber and Klien but Minardi's new engine didn't give Friesacher much of a boost as he was six seconds off the pace. Final top eight classification: De la Rosa, Button, Raikkonen, Zonta, Alonso, M. Schumacher, Barrichello, Wurz.