Ferrari was not to be removed from the top of the practice times on Friday at the French Grand Prix, as in the afternoon it was once again two scarlet cars at the top of the list. This time around it was Felipe Massa who was fastest, his 1:15.453...
Ferrari was not to be removed from the top of the practice times on Friday at the French Grand Prix, as in the afternoon it was once again two scarlet cars at the top of the list. This time around it was Felipe Massa who was fastest, his 1:15.453 less than a tenth slower than Kimi Raikkonen in the morning. In the second session Raikkonen was likewise less than a tenth down on Massa.
"I think the work which culminated in the test session at Silverstone is beginning to produce results," said Massa. "We were competitive and I think that can continue for the rest of the weekend. The harder tyre seems more consistent in terms of performance, while the softer one seems to give more grip, which will be useful for qualifying."
Raikkonen was equally upbeat, if a little cautious. "I would say that this was quite a positive day," he commented. "We worked well and I think we can be competitive this weekend. The car went well right from the morning, but there is still room for improvement. However, as usual on a Friday, it is hard to say what the real pecking order is in the field."
Third fastest, and just over three tenths behind Raikkonen, was the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso of Scott Speed. It was a good afternoon for the little Italian outfit as Tonio Liuzzi was fifth overall, half a second shy of Massa's time, and he was only ousted from fourth by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton late in the session.
"I am not sure exactly where we stand, as you don't know what the others are doing in terms of fuel load," said Speed. "Certainly we were on the low side when I did my quickest lap. Generally, we look more competitive than we have in past races. Now we just need to work hard, keep our heads down and try not to make any mistakes for the rest of the weekend."
Hamilton lost a fair amount of time in the morning due to the engine temperature being quite low and the protection system kicking in, which caused the car to stop. However, he had no problems in the afternoon. Teammate Fernando Alonso had a bit of a scrappy session, including a rather enthusiastic off-track moment, and ended up eighth.
David Coulthard had another strong session and put his Red Bull sixth but Mark Webber continued to struggle. The Australian was a lowly 20th in the morning and although he was a slightly improved 16th in the afternoon his car stopped in the first sector in the afternoon with a transmission problem. He had completed 17 laps.
Nico Rosberg was in the top 10 again for Williams, eighth, while teammate Alex Wurz slipped down the times slightly from the morning and finished 13th. It was a mixed result for Super Aguri, Anthony Davidson a good ninth but Takuma Sato was nearly at the back in 20th. Toyota's Ralf Schumacher rounded off the top 10 and Jarno Trulli was 14th.
Renault had moved up a little from the first session, Giancarlo Fisichella 11th and Heikki Kovalainen 17th, while the BMW Saubers had gone the other way and out of the top 10 with Robert Kubica 12th and Nick Heidfeld 19th. During last week's test session at Silverstone Heidfeld suffered from back pain and the problem is still present, which caused him to stop early. It's not certain if he will race on Sunday.
Honda's Jenson Button was 15th but was still within a second of Massa's top time, the last of the field to manage it. Only the top seven were within a second in the morning, although eighth (Wurz) and ninth (Kubica) were less than a tenth outside. The second Honda of Rubens Barrichello was 18th and half a second slower than Button. Spyker remained at the back, Adrian Sutil 21st and Christijan Albers 22nd.
Presumably nobody expected a Toro Rosso to be the best of the rest behind the Ferraris -- although Hamilton was just seven thousandths slower than Speed -- but it was a rather mixed result in general. Still, it's first blood to the Scuderia and a little hope that we won't have yet another McLaren walkover in the race. Final top eight classification: Massa, Raikkonen, Speed, Hamilton, Liuzzi, Coulthard, Rosberg, Alonso.