Michael Schumacher pleased Ferrari's home fans when he set the fastest time in the first practice session for the San Marino Grand Prix. At the very end of the hour Schumacher clocked 1:24.751 around the Imola circuit, nearly four tenths up on ...
Michael Schumacher pleased Ferrari's home fans when he set the fastest time in the first practice session for the San Marino Grand Prix. At the very end of the hour Schumacher clocked 1:24.751 around the Imola circuit, nearly four tenths up on Williams third driver Alex Wurz. BMW Sauber No.3 Robert Kubica was third quickest.
It was a dry start to the session, with the air and track temperatures in the low to mid twenties, and the forecast predicting a chance of showers. Honda third driver Anthony Davidson and Wurz were first out on the track, along with the Super Aguri of Yuji Ide.
Red Bull and MF1 No.3s Robert Doornbos and Giorgio Mondini followed next, then Kubica and the MF1 of Tiago Monteiro. Davidson clocked 1:34.163 to start the proceedings, while Scott Speed's Toro Rosso and Christijan Albers' MF1 also appeared.
After a few trips round the circuit Davidson was down to 1:30.182 but initially he was the only one on the time sheet. Tonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso came out for his installation lap, followed by the McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen but there was little action in the first 10 minutes.
Wurz was three tenths off Davidson on his first timed lap and then posted 1:28.962 to take over, over a second quicker. Doornbos clocked third then went ahead of Davidson for second, but still a second and a half off Wurz, who had taken a few tenths off his time, 1:28.507.
Ide joined in fourth, over nine seconds down and Wurz was still lapping, his next a 1:28.055. Doornbos closed the gap to eight tenths then Davidson returned to the top for seven tenths up on Wurz, 1:27.351. Ide lowered his fourth place time to seven seconds adrift.
After that scant activity there was a quiet spell, interrupted only by Takuma Sato's Super Aguri making it five on the time sheet, six tenths behind Ide. He improved on his next lap to move ahead of his teammate then Kubica demoted them both by taking fourth on his first flyer.
Kubica then climbed to second, less than a tenth off Davidson, and Mondini posted seventh on his first effort. Still on a charge, Kubica improved to the top spot, 1:26.979 for nearly four tenths up on Davidson. Mondini moved ahead of Ide to take sixth.
The Toyotas of Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli ventured out for installation laps, as did Toro Rosso third driver Neel Jani and the Renaults of Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella. Davidson returned to the top with a 1:26.906, seven hundredths up on Kubica.
Wurz was two tenths down in third but the other four drivers on the time sheet were over a second and much more off the pace. The Red Bulls of David Coulthard and Christian Klien appeared but with 25 minutes remaining there were still only seven who had set a time.
Kubica and Davidson were trading fastest laps at the top, Kubica's next a 1:26.784 for a tenth faster. Jani arrived in eighth and Monteiro in ninth, and Albers clocked sixth on his first timed lap to make a complement of 10 with 20 minutes to go.
Kubica again improved, first to 1:26.675 and then 1:26.189 on his next lap to leave Davidson seven tenths down. Wurz in third was just within a second but the rest were still two seconds and more adrift. Albers was up to fourth, with Doornbos and Jani making up the top six.
Doornbos the took the place off Albers after a very good middle sector, while Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren and Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber came out for installation laps. Wurz was next on a flyer and set fastest sectors all round to clock 1:25.132, just over a second up on Kubica.
Davidson moved into second and closed the gap to Wurz to eight tenths but then Kubica did likewise with a fractionally faster time. In the final five minutes Speed made it onto the time sheet in 10th, while Trulli posted sixth and Coulthard and Klien took eighth and 13th respectively.
Raikkonen clocked seventh and the Ferraris were very late arrivals, Felipe Massa eighth then Michael Schumacher fourth. In the dying seconds Michael stayed out to post 1:24.751 and snatch the top spot from Wurz by just under four tenths.
In the middle and last sectors respectively, Jani and Ide showed as stopped on the timing board but by then it was session over anyway. Michael's fastest time certainly was a crowd-pleaser for Ferrari's fans but was it true pace from the Maranello squad?
Michael only did two timed laps, which is hardly enough to draw any conclusions from, so we'll just have to wait and see. 10 drivers failed to set a time and it was the usual fairly quiet Friday morning. Final top eight classification: M. Schumcher, Wurz, Kubica, Trulli, Doornbos, Massa, Coulthard.