Last European GP practice falls to Raikkonen

Last European GP practice falls to Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen carried through his top performance of Friday afternoon to the last practice for the European Grand Prix on Saturday morning. The Ferrari man clocked 1:31.396 to be quickest in a session that saw Ferrari and McLaren mostly over a ...

Kimi Raikkonen carried through his top performance of Friday afternoon to the last practice for the European Grand Prix on Saturday morning. The Ferrari man clocked 1:31.396 to be quickest in a session that saw Ferrari and McLaren mostly over a second up on the rest of the field. Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were second and third for McLaren.

Kimi Raikkonen, Scuderia Ferrari, F2007.
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It was a cool and dry morning with the track temperature just under 30 degrees at the start of the session. The usual exodus for installation laps quickly came and went and only the Ferraris did not show face in the initial visit to the track. The rest completed a lap each then disappeared back into the pits again.

The Spykers were first to get down to work, Adrian Sutil and Markus Winkelhock back on track about five minutes later, followed by the Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher and the Super Aguris of Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson. Winkelhock clocked 1:38.608 but was quickly ousted by Sutil's 1:36.058.

Schumacher was eight tenths quicker then stayed out to post 1:34.156 but Trulli shaved off seven hundredths to go ahead. Sato and Davidson took third and fourth, both over a second down. The Toro Rossos of Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed joined the action, while Schumacher regained the top of the times with a 1:33.717.

Liuzzi and Speed posted third and fifth respectively on their first flying laps and a few others were venturing back out. BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld, the Williams of Nico Rosberg and Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella were on track, as well as Honda's Rubens Barrichello and the Ferrari of Raikkonen.

Rosberg went straight to the top, 1:33.590, while Heidfeld slotted into fourth. Fisichella took eighth and Raikkonen outdid Rosberg by seven tenths, 1:32.878. Heidfeld improved to second, half a second off the Ferrari, and Barrichello arrived in ninth. Teammate Jenson Button was warming up, as was the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

Raikkonen lowered his time to 1:32.704 and Button took 10th, while Fisichella climbed to sixth. Massa posted second behind teammate Raikkonen, four tenths off, and David Coulthard's Red Bull was next to set a time, ninth fastest. The second Renault of Heikki Kovalainen was 14th and the second Williams of Alex Wurz 11th.

Coulthard went up to fifth and the Ferraris were still lapping, Raikkonen down to 1:32.321 and Massa three tenths adrift. Alonso spoiled the scarlet party when his McLaren dropped into second, two tenths off, and he was immediately replaced by teammate Hamilton who was half a tenth quicker.

Robert Kubica put his BMW Sauber 10th and by the half way mark only Red Bull's Mark Webber had not set a time. Wurz and Kubica improved in tandem to fifth and sixth, while Heidfeld was seventh and Rosberg, Coulthard and Schumacher rounded out the top 10. Webber eventually edged onto the list in a lowly 21st.

At the time the top four were covered by three tenths and everyone else was a second and more off the pace. From Wurz in fifth to Liuzzi in 16th there was eight tenths covering them, while Webber, who had climbed to 17th, was fractionally over two seconds adrift. Trulli moved up to eighth and Kovalainen was one behind in ninth

Schumacher jumped up to fifth, he and Kubica in sixth then just under a second down on the leaders, while Webber was still inching forward and was up to 15th. There was a lull in activity as the clock ticked over into the second half hour; the track temperature had climbed a few degrees into the low thirties by then.

Fisichella, who had been shuffled down the order to the midfield, improved to ninth and Schumacher was still lapping and closing the gap a little on the leaders, eight tenths to Raikkonen. Rosberg moved back into the top 10 after being moved down, ninth, and Liuzzi managed to get himself up to 11th.

Into the last 20 minutes Raikkonen and Hamilton headed back out and the Finn improved his top time a little to 1:32.104. Alonso also returned and removed Raikkonen with a 1:32.039 for less than a tenth up. Once again the top four were over a second quicker than the rest; Massa moved ahead of Hamilton for third and the gap between the four was still three tenths.

Coulthard climbed to fifth after being moved down and Heidfeld followed into sixth, then Speed shot up to fifth from the midfield and was just over nine tenths off Alonso. Heidfeld moved ahead of Coulthard and in the final five minutes Raikkonen put in a charge to post fastest sectors in one and two and clock 1:31.396, six tenths up on Alonso.

Rosberg moved into the popular fifth spot and Schumacher was sixth, then Kubica popped up in third on exactly the same time as Alonso. Hamilton went out for a last effort and went back to second, just over two tenths off Raikkonen. Webber, for all his wandering around near the back of the midfield, finally jumped up to eighth.

There were no last second improvements at the top: Kubica's fourth was a bit of a one-off compared to the rest of the session, really it was a Ferrari and McLaren show. Can anyone get in between them in qualifying? Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Hamilton, Alonso, Kubica, Massa, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Webber.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Anthony Davidson , Fernando Alonso , Alexander Wurz , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Scott Speed , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Robert Kubica , Adrian Sutil
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Toro Rosso , Williams