Alex Wurz put in a last minute flying lap to return to the top of the times in the second Friday practice session for the European Grand Prix, Williams' third driver clocking a best of 1:32.675. It was six tenths slower than he was in the morning.
Alex Wurz put in a last minute flying lap to return to the top of the times in the second Friday practice session for the European Grand Prix, Williams' third driver clocking a best of 1:32.675. It was six tenths slower than he was in the morning. In the afternoon Renault's Fernando Alonso and Ferrari's Michael Schumacher were second and third respectively.
The track temperature had climbed to 40 degrees at the start of the session, although the air was still in the low twenties. MF1's Tiago Monteiro led out, followed by Red Bull third driver Robert Doornbos. BMW Sauber No.3 Robert Kubica was next and MF1 and Toro Rosso counterparts Adrian Sutil and Neel Jani.
Wurz joined them, as did BMW race drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Nick Heidfeld. Takuma Sato got his Super Aguri on track and Scott Speed did likewise with the Toro Rosso, followed by MF1's Christijan Albers. Honda No.3 Anthony Davidson tagged along and at the front it was Sutil leading the times, 1:37.270.
Toro Rosso's Tonio Liuzzi and Red Bull's Christian Klien were next to appear and Davidson took over at the top on his first flyer, 1:35.535. Then came Sutil, Albers, Jani, Monteiro, Doornbos, Sato and Speed. Liuzzi clocked second on his first effort, a second off Davidson, and Klien quickly slotted into third.
Felipe Massa had his first trip out of the day and the Ferrari went to the top, 1:34.994 for six tenths up on Davidson. The Brazilian stayed out and lowered his time to 1:34.546, leaving Davidson a second adrift. Ralf Schumacher's Toyota took fourth and Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren went one better for third shortly afterwards.
David Coulthard's Red Bull posted fifth on his first flyer and Kubica improved to second, six and a half tenths off Massa. Davidson took third but immediately lost it to Raikkonen again, then Kubica demoted both of them when he took it. Wurz was next to close the gap to Massa, four tenths when the Williams clocked second.
Williams racer Nico Rosberg went straight to the top when he had his first run, 1:34.532 for two tenths up on the Massa. Juan Pablo Montoya put his McLaren eighth then climbed to fifth, with Raikkonen one behind in sixth. After the first 15 minutes activity things quietened down a little but there was already 18 drivers on the time sheet.
The Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Alonso went out in formation and posted ninth and second respectively, Alonso a tenth off Rosberg. The champion stayed out for another trip around and subsequently went fastest, 1:33.579 and six tenths up on the Williams, while Fisichella climbed a couple of places to sixth.
At the other end of the field, Franck Montagny's Super Aguri was one place ahead of teammate Sato until Sato jumped up from 15th from the back. Behind him came Liuzzi, Albers, Sutil, Doornbos, Speed and Monteiro then Montagny. The Frenchman was not doing a great deal of laps despite it being only his second session in the car.
Michael's Ferrari took second on his first effort, a tenth off Alonso, and Fisichella was still climbing the ranks, up to fourth. Rubens Barrichello's Honda clocked eighth but there was little movement in the top 10. Massa improved to fifth after being shuffled down the order, the last of the front runners within a second of Alonso at the time.
Barrichello moved up one to seventh and the BMW racers finally got on the time sheet about half way through, Villeneuve 19th and Heidfeld 12th. Mark Webber's Williams had its first run of the day and posted ninth and Honda's Jenson Button was the penultimate man to set a time, 10th. That left just Toyota's Jarno Trulli to find the time sheet.
Davidson and Rosberg were trading the third spot then Kubica got in between them to post fourth. Button followed on into fifth but although there were a fair amount of laps being put in, the order was not changing a great deal. Wurz took over the third sport but Alonso remained at the top for quite some time.
Ralf jumped up from the midfield to fourth, the first change in the top 10 order for a while, and Fisichella improved his time but stayed ninth. He stayed out for another go and moved up one place, while Doornbos suddenly appeared in fourth. With 10 minutes remaining Trulli still hadn't set a time and had only completed four laps.
Albers shot up to 11th from the back of the pack, a rather startling improvement, and Sutil was the next man on the move, from 16th to 10th. A little bit of pace coming out of those MF1s perhaps? All was quiet at the front, with Alonso and Michael pottering about for the odd lap or two but no change in the positions.
In the final minute Wurz cranked up a 1:32.675 to oust Alonso from the top spot, nine tenths up, which really doesn't mean anything but looks good for Williams on the results. Trulli didn't manage to overcome whatever gremlins were bothering him as he did not set a time and only managed five laps -- still no luck for the Italian.
Alonso was fastest race driver with Michael just over a tenth behind. Ralf and Button were next but with some distance on the time sheet between the higher up drivers and their teammates, it's hard to draw any real conclusions as to which teams are looking competitive. Neither of the McLarens was in the top 10.
Wurz was happy enough despite slippery conditions in the morning. "The more rubber went down, the better our package functioned, so I think that will play into our hands," he said. "I was pleased with my performance, especially with the first lap of the long runs, where I was really quick, and in the end I was the fastest overall!"
The Renaults were also a little uncomfortable with the track conditions. "The grip level was very low, as is quite usual for a Friday," said Alonso. "That makes the car a bit inconsistent to drive but we will make some changes tonight and, as the circuit grip improves tomorrow, I am sure things will come together."
Michael worked on just one choice of tyre, which he was happy with, and expects close competition. "Our main rivals also seem very strong, so I think it will be a very close fight," he remarked. "We are confident and from what we have seen, we are also competitive here. If we can put all the pieces of the jigsaw together then we can fight for the win."
Friday is not a day which really indicates the level of performance but one would expect Renault, Ferrari, McLaren and Honda to be making the running in Saturday qualifying. Final top eight classification: Wurz, Alonso, M. Schumacher, Doornbos, Davidson, R. Schumacher, Button, Kubica.