Alex Wurz led a trio of third drivers at the top of the times in the second Friday practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, the Williams man setting a best of 1:12.547. He was over a second quicker than McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen in the...
Alex Wurz led a trio of third drivers at the top of the times in the second Friday practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, the Williams man setting a best of 1:12.547. He was over a second quicker than McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen in the morning. Honda's Anthony Davidson was second fastest in the afternoon, a tenth off Wurz, and the BMW Sauber of Sebastian Vettel was third.
The conditions were not much change from the earlier session, with the track and air temperatures around 20 and 30 degrees respectively. Renault's Fernando Alonso had an engine change this morning but will not suffer the penalty as it was before the first session. The team stressed there was no problem, just that dyno testing indcated the replacement unit would give optimum peformance.
Once again the third drivers led out, Vettel, Michael Ammermuller (Red Bull), Davidson, Neel Jani (Toro Rosso) and Ernesto Viso (Spyker MF1). Wurz was first at the top, 1:16.317, followed by Davidson and Ammermuller. Super Aguri's Takuma Sato and Toro Rosso's Scott Speed trailed the group out.
Vettel took over with a 1:16.140 but was immediately demoted by Davidson's 1:14.396 and Sato clocked seventh behind Viso. Speed started with eighth and next to venture out were Super Aguri's Sakon Yamamoto and the Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher. Speed moved up to sixth and Yamamoto posted ninth, while Trulli took second, 1.1 off Davidson, and Ralf sixth.
The Spyker MF1s of Tiago Monteiro and Christijan Albers took to the track and Ralf improved to third behind Trulli but Wurz also improved and took second, just over a tenth down on Davidson. Vettel split the Toyotas in fourth then climbed to second, less than three hundredths off the lead Honda. Monteiro and Albers took 13th and 11th respectively while Super Aguri No.3 Franck Montagny joined the action.
Albers improved to seventh and Monteiro to 10th and the Williams duo of Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg made their first appearances of the day, sixth and seventh respectively. Red Bull's David Coulthard and Robert Doornobs, Toro Rosso's Tonio Liuzzi and the McLaren of Pedro de la Rosa were next to join, and the latter wet to the top with a 1:14.235.
The Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa also put in their first track appearance, Michael's 1:14.161 taking over from de la Rosa by just under a tenth. Massa started with a lowly 17th. Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella took seventh on his first flyer and Massa improved to eighth. The second Renault of Fernando Alonso clocked fifth and Fisichella climbed to third.
There were a few off track incidents, including Michael, Speed and Fisichella but only minor detours. Honda's Rubens Barrichello posted 11th and Michael lowered his time to 1:13.850, Davidson slotting into second with a tenth deficit. Alonso moved up to take the spot, just five thousandths off the Ferrari and Robert Kubica was the first of the BMW Sauber racers to appear.
Vettel was next to the top, 1:13.655, and Kubica posted 16th on his first flyer then gained another couple of places to 14th. Montagny jumped up to ninth and Viso to 13th, while the second BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld and Honda's Jenson Button took to the time sheet, 25th and 27th to start with. That just left Raikkonen to go out.
Wurz gained a couple of places to sixth after being shuffled down the order and Heidfeld improved to 14th. Button followed suit to 10th and Raikkonen finally arrived in eighth. Button was still on the move, up to seventh and the yellow flags appeared briefly when Doornbos came to a halt in the last sector with an engine problem.
Ammermuller climbed to 14th and Vettel lowered his time slightly to 1:13.393. There were some minor changes in the positions then Trulli went up to fifth and Montagny to fourth. Davidson took over the top spot, 1:12.653 for seven and a half tenths up on Vettel, and Ralf clocked third. Vettel closed the gap to Davidson to two tenths and Button ousted Ralf from third.
There were only a few minutes left and Monteiro improved to 14th. Trulli took the third spot then Wurz went to the top, 1:12.547 for a tenth up on Davidson. Raikkonen climbed back to eighth after being moved down and Montagny did likewise to snatch the slot off him. Alonso was on a late flyer but had to take avoiding action when Yamamoto got rather out of shape.
It was the last day for Wurz as third driver; in 2007 he will be in the race seat. "I'm really pleased that I had such a good last lap," he said. "In fact, if I can squeeze some laps like that out of the car next year, where there are no mistakes and everything was fine, I will be very happy. The work we did today was good; we completed our usual tyre tests as well as some set-up comparisons and brake work."
Davidson was happy to end the season on a positive note. "The car was feeling really good all the way through today, particularly on the long runs which is promising for the race," said the Brit, who is rumoured to be heading for a Super Aguri race seat for 2007. "The track continued improving all through the day and as the temperature warmed up it suited our car more and more, so hopefully the weather will continue to get better through the weekend."
Vettel was confirmed as BMW's 2007 test and reserve driver this week. "It was a good Friday," he commented. "Although rain was predicted, it stayed dry which was an advantage and meant that in both sessions we were able do our preparation work well. I did a lot of laps and collected a lot of data. I like the track very much. It is very bumpy but a lot of fun to drive on."
Behind the trio of third drivers at the top, Trulli was the fastest racer in fourth and teammate Ralf was a couple behind so Toyota showed quite well -- the only team to have both race drivers in the top 10. The rest were rather scattered, Button, Michael, Raikkonen and Alonso in the 10 fastest but Barrichello, Massa, de la Rosa and Fisichella outside.
The BMWs and the Williams' didn't make much of an impression save for the No.3s but overall Friday is not really a particularly reliable indicator of form. Ferrari seemed to have fairly good pace and Renault was not far off but we'll have to wait until Saturday for a better idea. Final top eight classification: Wurz, Davidson, Vettel, Trulli, Button, M. Schumacher, R. Schumacher, Montagny.