Raikkonen ahead in British GP final practices

Raikkonen ahead in British GP final practices

Kimi Raikkonen continued his form in the Saturday morning practices for the British Grand Prix, posting the fastest time in both sessions. BAR's Jenson Button held station in second in both 45 minute practices, while the Ferraris took third,...

Kimi Raikkonen continued his form in the Saturday morning practices for the British Grand Prix, posting the fastest time in both sessions. BAR's Jenson Button held station in second in both 45 minute practices, while the Ferraris took third, Michael Schumacher in the first and Rubens Barrichello in the second. Raikkonen's best at the end of the morning was 1:18.280, just over a tenth up on Button.

Kimi Raikkonen.
Photo by DaimlerChrysler.

It was a cool, dry start to the morning and nobody seemed in a hurry to get going. Half the field came out for installation laps initially but it was ten minutes before anyone set a time. Marc Gen? put in the first couple of fliers, the Williams settling on 1:20.806, and Schumacher's first effort was nearly two seconds down. Renault's Fernando Alonso closed the gap to Gen? to four tenths then Schumacher warmed his Ferrari up to 1:19.834, leaving the other two some nine tenths astray.

The Jordans were next to venture out and Nick Heidfeld took fourth ahead of Giorgio Pantano. Giancarlo Fisichella beat the yellow pair, putting his Sauber fourth, and Barrichello was next on track. The Ferrari slotted into fifth initially, over a second off Schumacher, but followed up with a 1:19.791, four hundredths ahead. Juan Pablo Montoya bettered that by only just a tenth, the Williams posting 1:19.669.

Cristiano da Matta put Toyota into action with seventh fastest and the second Sauber of Felipe Massa took sixth. Olivier Panis followed teammate da Matta and made ninth, then Cristiano improved to the sixth slot. Massa retaliated by taking it back again and with ten minutes to go there was more activity. David Coulthard was the first McLaren out and took fourth, and Christian Klien the first Jaguar, 13th.

Jarno Trulli put his Renault fifth and Button hurled the BAR to the top with a 1:19.468, two tenths up on Montoya. Takuma Sato's BAR landed sixth on his first flyer and Klien improved to in front of the two Jordans, teammate Mark Webber slotting in behind the Austrian. Raikkonen's 1:19.315 took over the top, the McLaren a tenth and a half up. Schumacher improved to third in the final seconds. At the end of the first 45 minutes it was Raikkonen, Button, Schumacher.

Sadly, Minardi is mourning the loss of its sporting director John Walton, who passed away last night. The cars remained in the garage in the first session.

The second session saw the track temperature climb into the low twenties and Zsolt Baumgartner and Gianmaria Bruni were quickly out on the circuit. The Jaguars were also out early and Webber was the first to set a time, 1:22.161. He was quickly demoted by Klien's 1:21.437 and Webber closed the gap to two tenths. Panis took third fastest and Raikkonen was next to the top, 1:20.311 and over a second up on the Jaguars.

Alonso took second, closing the gap to half a second, and Fisichella slotted into fourth. Raikkonen improved to 1:19.752 and the gap to the Renault increased to over a second. Alonso came back to bring it down to nine tenths and Fisichella moved up to third. Coulthard took seventh on his first effort and Heidfeld ninth. Trulli posted fifth and Button fourth, while further down da Matta made ninth. Sato then took the place off him and Trulli improved to second. He was immediately displaced by Schumacher, who was over a tenth down on Raikkonen.

Sato moved up to seventh and Barrichello to third. Gen? posted seventh on his initial run and Barrichello was still going strong, taking the top with 1:19.484, two tenths up on the McLaren. Pantano managed 16th on his first timed lap and only Massa was not on the time sheet after the first 15 minutes. Montoya improved to seventh after being shuffled down the order and Alonso belted out the best times in all three sectors to post 1:19.169 for the top, three tenths up on Barrichello.

Trulli then put the second Renault behind his teammate by a deficit of two thousandths of a second. Webber moved back into the top ten in seventh and Raikkonen thwarted the Renaults with a 1:18.280, a whopping nine tenths quicker. The Ferraris were then over a second down on the McLaren and Button, next in line, was over two seconds off the pace. Schumacher spun off, a rare occurance, but managed to get back to the pits.

Sato improved to 11th and Klien to 12th, then Montoya joined the front runners; second fastest and six tenths down on Raikkonen. Heidfeld made a good effort for 10th and da Matta climbed to eighth. Massa eventually made it out on track and posted ninth for a good first run. Gen? also moved to the sharp end, taking second off teammate Montoya with a gap of half a second to the McLaren in front. Bruni came to a halt in the first sector with some kind of problem on the Minardi.

Coulthard improved to fourth after the order changes, then Button and Trulli to second and third respectively, demoting the Scot a couple of places. Schumacher got back on track and posted seventh, while teammate Barrichello moved up to third. The session came to a close with Raikkonen still at the top, a good effort from the Finn. Of course, this afternoon is when it matters and after the practices it's not clear-cut whom the favourite for pole might be. The safe bet is a Ferrari -- but not that safe. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Button, Barrichello, Trulli, Gen?, Montoya, Coulthard, Schumacher.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan