Ferrari moved back to the top of the times on Saturday morning, with Felipe Massa clocking a best of 1:11.810 in the final practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was just over a tenth behind in second and Kimi Raikkonen's...
Ferrari moved back to the top of the times on Saturday morning, with Felipe Massa clocking a best of 1:11.810 in the final practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was just over a tenth behind in second and Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari was third. Fernando Alonso finished eighth but had been higher earlier in the session.
The weather was improved from Friday, fine and dry with a track temperature of 50 degrees at the start of the session. All the field bar the Ferraris went out for installation laps but it was nearly 10 minutes gone before anyone got down to some serious work. The Spykers of Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto were first to return to the track, then the Toyotas of Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli.
Sutil clocked 1:16.628, some way off Friday afternoon's times, followed in quick succession by Schumacher and Trulli, both in the 1:24 bracket. Schumacher's next was a 1:14.196 and Trulli topped it by just half a tenth. Meanwhile a few others were making their way back out, Honda's Jenson Button, the Super Aguris of Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato and the Toro Rossos of Sebastian Vettel and Tonio Liuzzi.
Next to reappear were the BMW Saubers of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld and the Renaults of Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella. Button clocked fifth on his first effort and teammate Rubens Barrichello joined the track action. Vettel and Davidson slotted into sixth and seventh then Raikkkonen's Ferrari shot to the top, 1:13.011. Fisichella took second, nine tenths off.
Massa was next to go fastest, 1:12.802, and Alonso put his McLaren third behind Raikkonen with teammate Hamilton following into fourth. Barrichello was fifth, David Coulthard's Red Bull sixth, then Fisichella, Kubica, Trulli and Schumacher made up the top 10. The Williams of Kazuki Nakajima was just outside in 11th and the sister car of Nico Rosberg was 14th.
By half way through only Mark Webber's Red Bull had not set a time. Massa improved to 1:12.653 then Webber finally arrived in sixth. It went quiet for a little while, only minor changes on the time sheet -- the top four were covered by six tenths and from Webber, who climbed one to fifth, the gap to leader Massa was over a second. Barrichello was just one thousandth behind Webber in sixth.
Kubica was next to take the popular fifth spot and he was under the one second time gap. Vettel jumped up to ninth and Barrichello moved ahead of Webber for sixth but there was not much happening in general. Heidfeld, mysteriously, was down in 21st despite having completed a dozen laps. Fisichella and Kovalainen upped their pace and clocked fifth and sixth respectively.
Kubica also improved and moved back ahead of Kovalainen and Coulthard broke into the top ranks to take third. Heading into the last 20 minutes Raikkonen went back out and set quickest sectors in one and two to post 1:12.358, three tenths up on Massa. The Brazilian responded with a 1:12.136 to reclaim the top spot while Alonso took third, six tenths off Massa's time.
Several drivers were on hot laps but Kubica bought out the yellow flags in the middle sector when his car ground to a halt with some kind of problem. With Heidfeld still languishing well off the pace, albeit a little improved to 15th, it didn't look like a very promising start to Saturday for BMW. When the track was clear Liuzzi shot up to fourth but was immediately replaced by Webber.
Fisichella then nabbed the fourth place, while Coulthard was seventh and Vettel eighth, with Hamilton and Button completing the top half of the field. Time was ticking away as Schumacher improved to sixth and Trulli to third, and Vettel again ascended to fourth. Massa dropped his top time to 1:11.810 and Heidfeld finally woke up and Vettel found himself demoted from fourth once more, this time by the BMW.
Webber's last effort put him third but Hamiton was also on flyer and took second, just over a tenth off Massa. As the session closed Button got his Honda up to 12th but Barrichello easily trounced him and jumped up to sixth. Alonso was shuffled down to eighth by the end and only the top three were in the 1:11 time frame. The top nine were covered by a second, although Rosberg and Vettel, 10th and 11th, were only just over.
It was very close at the top, just hundredths between Hamilton and Raikkonen, so as usual top honours this afternoon are likely to be fought over between Ferrari and McLaren. The last qualifying session of the year will be absolutely crucial for the front runners and pole could go to any one of them. Final top eight classification: Massa, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Webber, Trulli Barrichello, Heidfeld, Alonso.