Jarno Trulli set the fastest time for Toyota in the final practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix, ahead of Red Bull's Christian Klien and Renault's Fernando Alonso in second and third respectively. Trulli's best was 1:32.832, a couple of ...
Jarno Trulli set the fastest time for Toyota in the final practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix, ahead of Red Bull's Christian Klien and Renault's Fernando Alonso in second and third respectively. Trulli's best was 1:32.832, a couple of seconds up on Alonso's fastest in the earlier session.
Test driver Anthony Davidson has replaced Takuma Sato at BAR for this session and for the remainder of the weekend, as Sato is suffering from a fever. The team and Sato took advice from the circuit medical centre and he decided to withdraw as this is such a physically demanding race.
The track and air temperatures were a relatively cool 30 degrees as the Jordans of Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan led the pack out for installation laps. Minardi's Christijan Albers was the first to set a couple of flyers, with a best of 1:43.163. Teammate Patrick Friesacher followed, just over a second down.
The Minardis had the circuit to themselves for a while as the other teams waited for the track to improve. After 20 minutes Davidson joined the times in third and Toyota's Ralf Schumacher posted a more representative top time of 1:36.631. Davidson quickly improved to second but was four seconds down.
Ralf bought his time down to 1:36.321 and Davidson moved up to 3.4 seconds adrift, then Rubens Barrichello put his Ferrari half a second behind the Toyota. Red Bull's Klien clocked third fastest on his first flyer and Michael Schumacher took over the top spot, 1:35.854.
The McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen moved into second, just seven hundredths down on Michael's Ferrari, and David Coulthard went one ahead of teammate Klien for fifth. Michael improved to 1:35.063 to widen the gap to Raikkonen to over eight tenths.
Coulthard and Klien were improving their times but holding station and Jacques Villeneuve was the first Sauber out, 10th. Juan Pablo Montoya clocked third for McLaren on his first effort and Mark Webber went seventh for Williams. BAR's Jenson Button posted ninth initially then improved to sixth.
Webber moved up to fifth but was immediately demoted by the Toyota of Trulli and Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella went ahead of Raikkonen. Montoya beat them both for second and was in turn bettered by former teammate Ralf. The order was quickly moved down again as Alonso took to the track and put his Renault to the top, 1:35.026.
Felipe Massa joined the action one ahead of teammate Villeneuve in 13th and Nick Heidfeld put his Williams ninth. Alonso stayed out to clock 1:34.715 and Trulli improved to third but was ousted by Fisichella, the times rapidly changing in the closing minutes.
Button climbed to eighth after the reshuffle and Fisichella made it a Renault one-two when he posted two tenths behind Alonso. Raikkonen moved up to fourth while Massa and Davidson improved in tandem to 13th and 14th respectively. Michael then took over second, a tenth and half off Alonso.
Raikkonen lowered his time but stayed fourth and that was the end of the first practice. The top six were separated by just under a second and the top four by four tenths. Alonso remained at the top, followed by Michael and Fisichella. Button's Honda engine appeared to be smoking as he headed into the pits.
The track temperature had climbed a few degrees for the start of the second session and Ralf was the first, and only, man on track in the opening minutes. He clocked 1:36.027 to start the proceedings then bought it down to 1:35.507. Raikkonen was next out and took over with a 1:35.301.
Trulli took second on his first lap, just six hundredths down, but Raikkonen improved to 1:34.644 and widened the gap to seven tenths. Friesacher joined in fourth and Montoya took the second slot half a second astray of his teammate. Trulli demoted the Colombian then Alonso did the same to the Toyota.
Montoya came back to take third and dropped Trulli to fourth, and Alonso kept going to take the top with a 1:34.312. A little further down, Coulthard was in sixth, Davidson seventh and Karthikeyan eighth. Albers completed the top ten, one behind teammate Friesacher.
Michael was next to go fastest, 1:34.102, and Fisichella took fifth on his first flyer of the session. Albers moved one ahead of Friesacher then Fisichella spun into the gravel through turn 12 and lost his front wing, which caused a brief red flag period while his car was removed.
Several drivers made a move once the track was clear: Webber took ninth, Barrichello eighth and Villeneuve 11th, while Albers and Friesacher swapped places again. Massa climbed to take eight off Barrichello and Trulli and Ralf improved in unison, Trulli fastest with 1:32.832 and Ralf a tenth behind.
Monteiro split the two Minardis with 16th and Coulthard posted third fastest, with Alonso fractionally behind in fourth. Alonso separated the Toyotas when he took second, just four hundredths down on Trulli, and Montoya made up some places he had lost with seventh. Klien made a great effort to take the second spot, three hundredths shy of Trulli.
Villeneuve had a brief wander into the gravel and Massa improved to ninth, although he lost the position to Barrichello shortly afterwards. With eight minutes to go Heidfeld had not yet set a time and Button was still in the garage having his engine looked at.
Monterio made a good effort for 15th and Villeneuve improved his time but stayed 13th. Webber moved up to eighth and Heidfeld finally set a time just as the session was closing and took the position off his teammate. Button did not make it out on track.
Toyota seemed vastly improved this morning but the team has often posted good results in practice and then waned in qualifying. Renault and McLaren remained strong and Red Bull once again was on the pace with both cars in the top five. Final top eight classification: Trulli, Klien, Alonso, R. Schumacher, Coulthard, Fisichella, Raikkonen, Heidfeld.