BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica , who made his F1 debut at the Hungaroring last year, knocked Ferrari and McLaren off the top spot in the first practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix, his best time of the morning a 1:22.390. Teammate Nick Heidfeld was...
BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica , who made his F1 debut at the Hungaroring last year, knocked Ferrari and McLaren off the top spot in the first practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix, his best time of the morning a 1:22.390. Teammate Nick Heidfeld was sixth on time sheet but had been as high as third until late improvements from other drivers dropped him down.
Felipe Massa was the best of the usual suspects, his Ferrari just over a tenth behind Kubica in second. Kimi Raikkonen was one behind in third and only a couple of hundredths off Massa -- the Finn never made the top of the time sheet this morning and Massa managed it only briefly. The Brazilian stopped at the pit exit right at the end of the session with some kind of technical or mechanical problem.
McLaren held sway at the top of the times for much of the session until the closing stages. Fernando Alonso finished fourth and Lewis Hamilton fifth, Alonso within two tenths of Kubica and Hamilton about half a tenth further behind. BMW so far seems to have good single-lap pace on the softer tyres and qualifying is crucial at this track, so a six way fight for pole on Saturday could be possible.
The Williams of Nico Rosberg was seventh, less than a tenth behind Heidfeld, but Alex Wurz was 13th and nearly two seconds off the lead pace. Both Hondas made the top 10, Jenson Button eighth and Rubens Barrichello ninth and Button was the last of the drivers to be within a second of Kubica. Ralf Schumacher's Toyota rounded off the top 10 and teammate Jarno Trulli was 12th.
In between the Toyotas was the Super Aguri of Anthony Davidson but even in 11th he was 1.7 down on the lead BMW. From David Coulthard's Red Bull in 14th everyone was two seconds and more adrift. The second Red Bull of Mark Webber was 20th and the gap was over three seconds but Webber stopped at the pit exit an hour into the session -- it turned out to be an electrical problem.
Renault had its now-familiar lowly start to the weekend, Heikki Kovalainen 15th and Giancarlo Fisichella 17th. Renault has not spoken much about drivers for next year but Fisichella said on Thursday that he was expecting to continue with the team. Some think that tester Nelson A. Piquet might get promoted to a race seat but maybe, given Kovalainen's earlier difficulties, Renault is thinking twice about another rookie.
Sebastian Vettel made his debut for Toro Rosso and was 16th, two places ahead of Tonio Liuzzi, which is not bad seeing as it's the first time Vettel has driven the STR2. However, Liuzzi's car stopped in near enough the same place as Webber did -- he managed to rejoin the session later but obviously there are some issues there. Takuma Sato's Super Aguri was 19th and over a second off teammate Davidson.
Spyker kept the back row warm, Adrian Sutil 21st and new racing partner Sakon Yamamoto 22nd. Yamamoto hasn't driven an F1 car since February and has very little testing time under his belt this year; he wasn't far off six seconds from the top time (5.728 to be precise). Final top eight classification: Kubica, Massa, Raikkonen, Alonso, Hamilton, Heidfeld, Rosberg, Button.