McLaren and Renault traded fastest times in the last practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren snatching a quickest of 1:14.232 right at the end. Renault's Fernando Alonso was second fastest, just over four tenths...
McLaren and Renault traded fastest times in the last practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren snatching a quickest of 1:14.232 right at the end. Renault's Fernando Alonso was second fastest, just over four tenths behind, and the McLaren of Juan Pablo Montoya was third. Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault made up the quartet in fourth.
The track temperature was in the mid thirties, with the air in the high twenties as the proceedings got under way for the first 45 minute session. Minardi's Patrick Friesacher was first on track, followed by the Jordan of Tiago Monterio but neither of them was in a hurry to set a time. The second Minardi of Christijan Albers joined after five minutes.
The three of them pottered about for an installation lap apiece and then Narain Karthikeyan's Jordan and the McLaren of Raikkonen appeared. They too did a lap each, followed by Raikkonen's teammate Montoya, but everyone seemed a bit lazy early on. Monteiro finally set a time first, a less than adventurous 1:23.587.
He dropped it into the 1:21 bracket on his next effort and then settled on a 1:21.341. Friesacher took second, 1.3 down, then improved to go ahead of the Jordan with a 1:21.201. We may be talking back of the grid here but Friesacher has been making some good efforts so far this season, putting Albers a little bit in the shade.
Karthikeyan made it three on the time sheet after 25 minutes, behind the other two, then Alonso sauntered out and clocked 1:17.897 to remind the rest what they were supposed to be doing. He was swiftly demoted by teammate Fisichella's 1:17.589 and the BAR of Takuma Sato slotted into third.
Karthiekyan improved to fourth, two seconds off the pace, and Ralf Schumacher's Toyota arrived one behind for fifth. The Ferrari's of Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher joined ninth and tenth, while Raikkonen woke up and posted second. Ralf improved to fourth and Barrichello moved up to seventh.
Raikkonen put in another flyer and took over the top spot, 1:17.500, and Michael moved up to sixth. David Coulthard's Red Bull took eighth but was immediately demoted by the Toyota of Jarno Trulli taking the position. Coulthard went round again to take the spot back and Williams Nick Heidfeld took sixth off Michael.
Trulli climbed to third and Heidfeld to fourth, the Trulli moved up to the top with a 1:17.441. No sooner had he got there than Alonso ousted him with a 1:16.998. Heidfeld improved to third and Jenson Button put his BAR second on his first effort. Heidfeld then took his turn at the top, 1:16.569, but Alonso came back with a 1:16.062.
Mark Webber, who had been idling down the times, moved his Williams up to third and the Red Bull of Christian Klien appeared in 10th. He lost the spot to Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve and Karthikeyan made a notable effort for 12th. The second Sauber of Felipe Massa started with 15th then climbed to 12th.
Sato improved to sixth after being moved down the times, and Villeneuve went up to ninth, and Alonso lowered his top time to 1:15.582. Raikkonen slotted into second and Montoya took sixth, the Fisichella took over second fastest. Massa went up to ninth while the Ferraris were circulating in the midfield.
Sato improved to fourth and Michael to 10th, then seventh, although Barrichello was way down in 15th. There was no change at the top at the end; Alonso led Fisichella by just under two tenths and Raikkonen was third. Renault still looked strong, as did BAR, with McLaren and Williams in the mix.
There was little change in the conditions at the start of the second session, which started in an equally slow fashion as the previous one. Klien was first to venture out, followed by Raikkonen, Monteiro, Webber and Fisichella. Michael and Barrichello joined shortly afterwards and Klien set the first time, 1:19.714.
Raikkonen swiftly took over with a 1:16.977, over a second up, then Webber took second to close the gap slightly to nine tenths. Fisichella took over with a 1:16.626, while Michael and Monteiro clocked fifth and sixth respectively. Michael then improved to third and Montoya was next to take the lead, 1:16.383.
Coulthard started with sixth and Fisichella and Webber improved in formation, the Renault man the quicker with 1:16.659. Sato took the second place from Webber but was immediately demoted by Montoya, two hundredths off Fisichella. Raikkonen slotted into third and Villeneuve arrived in seventh.
Button clocked sixth on his first flyer, while Sato removed Raikkonen from third, and the Minardis and Monteiro squabbled between themselves at the back. Fisichella improved his time to 1:15.659 and Button climbed to fourth, then went round again to clock 1:15.639 for the top, just two hundredths up on Fisichella.
Alonso took over with a 1:15.435 while Heidfeld and Ralf started with ninth and 10th respectively. Massa posted 12th on his first effort and Alonso improved to 1:15.345. Karthikeyan led the Jordans and Minardis in 16th, Massa moved up one to 11th and Barrichello slotted in behind the Sauber for 12th.
Ralf improved to eighth and Monteiro to 14th, while Massa dropped his time but stayed 11th. Fisichella ousted Alonso from the top with a 1:15.226 and Klien went up to 14th after dropping a long way down the times. Webber took seventh, one behind teammate Heidfeld, and Albers improved to 17th ahead of Karthikeyan and Friesacher.
Coulthard went up to 12th and Friesacher took over as the leader of the Jordan and Minardi group in 16th. Montoya was the next man on the move, setting the fastest first and second sectors to clock a best of 1:14.745, nearly half a second up on Fisichella. Alonso improved to second and closed the gap to Montoya to just eleven hundredths.
Villeneuve went up to 12th behind teammate Massa and Button improved to fourth after being shuffled down the order. Sato did likewise to third, BAR certainly looking pretty competitive so far this weekend. Trulli finally put in a flyer with 15 minutes to go for 15th, while Massa again improved his time but couldn't escape from 11th.
Trulli climbed to 12th and Monteiro took his turn at leading the Jordan/Minardi pack. Michael made an effort and got his Ferrari up to sixth, while Coulthard took 12th off Trulli. Karthikeyan promoted himself to leader of the back markers in 17th and Fisichella improved his time but stayed second, the gap to Montoya a minuscule one thousandth.
Ralf climbed to seventh and right at the end of the session Alonso popped in a very fast 1:14.670, immediately followed by an even faster 1:14.232 from Raikkonen, over four tenths up. It's so close at the top it's hard to tell who might have the edge in qualifying but a Renault or a McLaren is probably a pretty reasonable bet.
Raikkonen will have his job cut out for him though, as he will run in the middle of the qualifying session, while Alonso will be out last. BAR looked fairly handy this morning and Toyota, Williams and Ferrari were reasonably in touch, although with the pace of the Renaults and McLarens it seems a bit of a stretch for anyone else to be on pole.
Sauber was pretty average but Red Bull looks like its struggling on this high speed circuit. It's going to be an interesting qualifying session -- so far there's no sign of the predicted rain but there's time yet. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Alonso, Montoya, Fisichella, Sato, R. Schumacher, Button, M. Schumacher.