Ferrari on top in final Chinese GP practice

Ferrari on top in final Chinese GP practice

Michael Schumacher led a Ferrari one-two in the second Saturday practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix after Williams had done the same in the first. Schumacher's best time in the final session was 1:33.448, while brother Ralf topped the...

Michael Schumacher led a Ferrari one-two in the second Saturday practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix after Williams had done the same in the first. Schumacher's best time in the final session was 1:33.448, while brother Ralf topped the first with a slightly quicker 1:34.380.

Michael Schumacher.
Photo by Bridgestone Corporation.

Rubens Barrichello and Juan Pablo Montoya were the second placed drivers in the two practices and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest behind the two Ferraris in the final session.

Both the track and air temperatures were in the high twenties at the start of the session and Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner was first to set a flyer, 1:41.582. The Hungarian spent the first 15 minutes in solitary splendour on the time sheet until Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella arrived with a 1:36.830.

The second Minardi of Gianmaria Bruni took second but was immediately demoted by Fisichella's teammate Felipe Massa. Timo Glock made it five on the time sheet, the Jordan slotting into third. Massa wound up another flyer and tool over at the top with 1:36.673, a tenth and a half up on Fisichella.

Nick Heidfeld was next to join, third for the Jordan driver, and Barrichello went straight to the top on his first flyer, 1:34.854 for nearly two seconds up on Massa. Ralf Schumacher followed into second fastest, closing the gap to three tenths. Mark Webber was next up and the Jaguar took third, but only Ralf was near to Barrichello's time.

Takuma Sato was the first BAR on track and posted sixth, while Michael Schumacher took second with a gap of just five hundredths to his teammate. Montoya put his Williams fourth and Renault's Fernando Alonso took sixth. The second Renault of Jacques Villeneuve posted 10th and Sato improved to seventh, then Villeneuve moved up to fifth.

Fisichella moved up to third and Ricardo Zonta was first out for Toyota and took sixth; teammate Olivier Panis clocked 16th. With five minutes to go only the McLarens and Jaguar's Christian Klien had yet to set a time. Panis improved to 12th and David Coulthard duly put his McLaren eighth. Teammate Raikkonen posted sixth and Klien arrived in 16th.

Michael took over at the top with a 1:34.844, a mere one hundredth ahead of Barrichello, but was immediately eclipsed by Montoya's 1:34.679, a tenth and a half up. Ralf swiftly responded with a 1:34.380 to take over, three tenths ahead, and that was the end of the first session; Ralf, Montoya, Michael the top three.

Conditions remained the same for the second session and the Toyotas were first on the time sheet, Zonta's 1:35.058 eight tenths ahead of Panis. Fisichella took third but was displaced by Klien and Glock in quick succession. Alonso relieved Panis of second, two and a half tenths down on Zonta, and Raikkonen took sixth.

Coulthard bettered his teammate to post third but was demoted by Sato and Villeneuve clocked fourth. Button slotted in one behind for fifth and Ralf dislodged Zonta with a 1:34.769, nearly three tenths up. Michael promptly went faster by seven hundredths, 1:34.692, so Zonta retaliated with 1:34.518.

Barrichello moved up to third and Montoya, who had been loitering in the midfield, shot to the top with a 1:34.458, just six hundredths up on Zonta. Raikkonen followed suit and toppled Montoya by over two tenths, 1:34.210. Michael retaliated with fastest sectors right across the board; 1:33.448 for the Ferrari.

Barrichello, Raikkonen and Fisichella improved in formation to second, third and fourth respectively and Coulthard moved up to seventh. Button took fourth and Massa improved his time but stayed 10th. Alonso moved up from the midfield to eighth but didn't stay there long.

Heidfeld shot up to sixth in the final minutes, within a second of the Ferraris, which is no mean feat for a Jordan, even if he was perhaps on light fuel. Michael, Barrichello and Raikkonen remained stationary at the top at the close of the session. Ferrari, unsurprisingly, had found its feet after a rather tentative Friday and McLaren retained its form from yesterday.

The rest of the usual suspects -- Renault, Williams and BAR -- were a bit hit and miss, while Sauber and Toyota looked generally competitive. Jaguar still looked to be struggling a little but Heidfeld's last minute dash for sixth was a star turn. Final top eight classification: M. Schumacher, Barrichello, Raikkonen, Button, Fisichella, Heidfeld, Montoya, Coulthard.

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