BMW Sauber third driver Robert Kubica topped the time sheet in the second free practice session for the German Grand Prix, and was the fastest man of the day. His 1:16.225 was just over a tenth quicker than Honda No.3 Anthony Davidson had been in...
BMW Sauber third driver Robert Kubica topped the time sheet in the second free practice session for the German Grand Prix, and was the fastest man of the day. His 1:16.225 was just over a tenth quicker than Honda No.3 Anthony Davidson had been in the morning. Second quickest in the afternoon was Ferrari's Michael Schumacher and Red Bull No.3 Robert Doornbos was third.
The track was declared wet at the start of the session, due to midday rain showers, and Kubica was first to venture out, followed by the MF1 of Christijan Albers. The Williams of Mark Webber joined them but it was a very slow start. Jacques Villeneuve's BMW Sauber and Williams third driver Alex Wurz also put in an appearance but no times were being set.
Davidson went out for an installation lap, and the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld, followed by Jarno Trulli, fresh from the confirmation this morning that Toyota has extended his contract. After nearly 10 minutes Wurz clocked the first time, a leisurely 1:32.862. He lowered it to 1:27.114 over his next few laps.
MF1 third driver Markus Winkelhock slotted into second once 15 minutes of the session had gone, eight tenths off Wurz. The Williams man then lowered his time to 1:24.373, leaving Winkelhock over three seconds off. Davidson eventually posted third while Doornbos appeared at the top after half an hour, 1:19.724.
He lowered it to 1:18.611 and Toro Rosso No.3 Neel Jani posted third and Albers fifth. A few more drivers started appearing on track as the conditions dried out a little and Kubica took over the head of the time sheet, 1:18.194 for four tenths up on Doornbos.
The Honda of Rubens Barrichello started with seventh then climbed to third and Michael's Ferrari went straight to the top, 1:16.917. Trulli posted eighth and the Red Bull of Christian Klien 10th, followed by the Toro Rosso of Scott Speed into 12th. Jenson Button's Honda clocked third and Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren second.
The sudden burst of activity continued; Klien moved up one to ninth and Tonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso started with 16th, then Klien improved again, this time to fifth. Teammate David Coulthard was 10th and Felipe Massa's Ferrari posted fourth on his first flyer then improved to third.
The second McLaren of Pedro de la Rosa jumped up to fourth from outside the top 10 and Renault's Fernando Alonso started with 12th then went up to seventh. Mark Webber's Williams also moved from the midfield and took the fourth position, the last at the time to be within a second of Michael's fastest.
Kubica then went quickest after being shuffled down the times, 1:16.225 for nearly three tenths up on Michael, and the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella clocked eighth. Ralf Schumacher's Toyota was loitering in the midfield, along with the BMWs and with 10 minutes left to go only the Super Aguri of Sakon Yamamoto and the Williams of Nico Rosberg had not set a time.
At the very end of the session Doornbos made his way back up to third after being moved down but there was no change at the top, Kubica leading Michael. With the changeable conditions it's harder than ever to judge who's on the pace so far but Ferrari, McLaren and Honda overall looked fairly handy.
"This morning we couldn't get the right information as the car was not really balanced," said Kubica. "We then decided to go in one direction, which was really good. I was surprised as we were not looking for quick lap times but we were much quicker than this morning and everything is now positive."
Michael is wary of rivals. "At the moment, the situation seems pretty good, but we have to bear in mind that other teams have carried out difference work programmes in terms of tyres today, which also explains the difference in the times," he commented. "I think we have not yet seen the true potential of some of the teams."
Doornbos was pleased with his third best time. "It was a bit tricky this morning due to all the different weather forecasts we were getting for the afternoon, but we managed to complete all the dry running that we needed to, although it was quite tight in the end," he said. "I think we look quite competitive here."
Once again there was controversy, this time in regard to mass damper systems. The FIA recently banned such systems but Renault submitted data that apparently showed the dampers improved mechanical, not aerodynamic, grip. Therefore stewards have now permitted use of the system but reportedly Renault did not id
Of course, that wasn't the end of it. The FIA is now appealing the decision of its own stewards but it's yet to be known when the hearing will take place. Now the teams have to decide whether to take the risk of running mass dampers in qualifying and the race -- if the FIA's appeal is successful they could be disqualified retrospectively.
Rosberg did not go out due to damage to the Williams from his crash in the first session, although the young German himself is fine. Yamamoto did not set a time due to hydraulic issues. Super Aguri did not run a third car as only two new SA06 chassis are completed, although an SA05 is available as back up if necessary. Final top eight classification: Kubica, M. Schumacher, Doornbos, Raikkonen, Massa, Davidson, Webber, de la Rosa.