BMW Sauber third driver Robert Kubica finished Friday's free practices for the British Grand Prix as the fastest man of the day, his 1:21.082 over eight tenths quicker than Honda's Anthony Davidson in the morning. Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella...
BMW Sauber third driver Robert Kubica finished Friday's free practices for the British Grand Prix as the fastest man of the day, his 1:21.082 over eight tenths quicker than Honda's Anthony Davidson in the morning. Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella was second fastest in the afternoon and Williams No.3 Alex Wurz was third.
The temperature remained high -- well, high for Silverstone -- with the track up in the mid forties as the afternoon's activities got under way. The third drivers were quickly out, Kubica, Davidson, Robert Doornbos (Red Bull), Neel Jani (Toro Rosso), Giorgio Mondini (MF1) and Wurz.
Also out on track early were the three Super Aguris of Takuma Sato, Franck Montagny and third driver Sakon Yamamoto, and the MF1s of Tiago Monteiro and Christijan Albers. Doornbos set the first time, 1:26.017, but was swiftly demoted by Davidson's 1:23.848. Albers took third but was immediately ousted by Mondini and Monteiro.
Albers retaliated and took the place back, then Ralf Schumacher's Toyota clocked second on his first flyer. Ferrari's Felipe Massa slotted into third then both were dropped by Wurz, three and a half tenths off Davidson for second. Massa stayed out and took the position, the gap to Davidson less than a tenth, so Wurz did likewise and posted 1:23.786 for the top.
Massa then clocked 1:23.553 to take over, just over two tenths quicker, but was immediately demoted by Kubica's 1:22.636, nine tenths up. Jarno Trulli's Toyota was fifth but was replaced by Nico Rosberg's Williams, while Ralf, Doornbos, Albers and Mondini made up the top ten after the first 15 minutes.
Toro Rosso's Scott Speed took over the tenth spot and Rosberg went up one to fourth. Michael Schumacher's Ferrari arrived in seventh then moved up to third and Speed gained a place to ninth. David Coulthard's Red Bull started with 10th and teammate Christian Klien was 17th. Jenson Button put his Honda eighth and Michael moved ahead of Massa for second.
Mark Webber's Williams clocked seventh on his first effort and Tonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso moved up to 13th after a slow start. Webber improved to second, half a second off Kubica, and Monteiro took the 13th slot off Liuzzi. Button climbed to fifth and Renault's Fernando Alonso appeared for his first timed lap of the day, a lowly 20th.
The reigning champion then jumped up to second, just over two tenths off Kubica. Rubens Barrichello's Honda posted 11th on his initial foray then moved up one place on his next lap, while Fisichella put his Renault straight to the top on his first run, 1:22.294 for three and a half tenths up on Kubica.
Jacques Villeneuve was the first of the BMW Sauber racers to clock a time, 16th, and Juan Pablo Montoya made McLaren's first appearance. Villeneuve improved to ninth and Barrichello to seventh, while Montoya started with 14th. Kubica returned to the top, half a tenth up on Fisichella with a 1:22.243 and Montoya moved up to ninth.
Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren and Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber were the last cars to get on the time sheet, the former 16th and the latter 18th. The top six up to Barrichello were covered by a second, while Yamamoto at the back was over six seconds off the pace and about a second off teammate Montagny ahead of him.
At the front it remained Kubica leading the Renault duo of Fisichella and Alonso with 20 minutes to go. There was not much action for a time, drivers putting in some laps but no changes in the order until Trulli, who had been shuffled down the list, improved to third. Massa followed him into fourth, which dropped Alonso to fifth.
Albers made a notable improvement to 10th and Mondini was one behind in 11th. Ralf moved into ninth and Doornbos took 11th and at the front Kubica lowered his time to 1:21.651. Montoya returned to the top ten in 10th after being dropped outside, while Raikkonen had only done four laps and was falling down the times.
Doornbos and Monteiro improved in tandem to 10th and 11th, dropping Montoya out again, while Wurz took the third spot in front of Davidson. Kubica put in a last minute flyer for 1:21.082, which left Fisichella over a second adrift. It was an average Friday afternoon with a few off track excursions but nothing to get excited about.
"It was a good Friday and we have done a lot of tyre testing," said Kubica. "I think our performance after the Barcelona test last week looked pretty okay. We saw there we were quite strong on long runs and today has confirmed this. The tyre choice will not be easy, but we have a lot of data."
Fisichella had a troublesome day. "I didn't really get much of a feel for things today -- I only did one timed lap, had a spin at Stowe, and then a problem that kept me in the garage for the rest of the session. We are not worried though: the problem will be fixed for tomorrow, and we have done a lot of testing here as well so we know the circuit."
Like most drivers, Wurz noted the track conditions. "I am sure everyone will say the same today, but the circuit is different to the conditions at the test here," he commented. "Nevertheless, we tried to be analytical today and not become too worried because the lap times were slower for everyone, so we just continued with the programme and tyre choice work."
Renault continues to look the strongest team, although Alonso appeared to be wrestling with the car. Ferrari and Toyota showed quite well but it was hard to tell with McLaren -- Montoya finished 14th and did 10 laps, while Raikkonen set just one flyer and was 21st. Honda and Williams seemed solid enough but not on the pace of the front runners.
It was not a bad afternoon for MF1 with all three cars in the top 16 but the Red Bull and BMW racers didn't seem particularly competitive, Villeneuve being the best in 18th. Super Aguri rounded off the times as usual. Final top eight classification: Kubica, Fisichella, Wurz, Davidson, Trulli, Massa, Alonso, M. Schumacher.