Alex Wurz was back at the top of the times in Friday's second free practice for the European Grand Prix, beating his own fastest time in the morning by a second with a best of 1:30.623. McLaren's third driver was just seven thousandths faster than...
Alex Wurz was back at the top of the times in Friday's second free practice for the European Grand Prix, beating his own fastest time in the morning by a second with a best of 1:30.623. McLaren's third driver was just seven thousandths faster than Toyota counterpart Ricardo Zonta, and the Williams of Nick Heidfeld was third.
The track temperature was up around 50 degrees at the start of the session and once again the third driver's led out. Zonta, Wurz, Red Bull's Christian Klien and Renault test driver Franck Montgany on loan to Jordan, along with Minardi's Christijan Albers, the Red Bull of Tonio Liuzzi and Jordan's Tiago Monterio.
Wurz was first on the time sheet, 1:34.402, followed by Zonta and Liuzzi, with Albers, Montgany and Monteiro taking third fourth and fifth. Felipe Massa was out early and put his Sauber fourth, while Wurz dropped his time to 1:33.807. Zonta improved his time but stayed second and Narain Karthikeyan's Jordan joined in sixth.
Klien improved to third and Fernando Alonso was the first Renault to appear on the time sheet for the day, second fastest. Mark Webber followed on and took over the top of the times, 1:32.088 for the Williams, and David Coulthard put his Red Bull fifth. Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren was next to take the second spot, half a second down on Webber.
Further down the field Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve joined in 11th in amongst the Jordans and Minardis, then the fastest time fell to Webber's teammate Heidfeld, 1:31.813, three tenths quicker. Ralf Schumacher clocked 13th in the Toyota on his first trip out but Monteiro was the first casualty of the weekend, coming to a halt in the first sector.
Michael Schumacher's Ferrari posted fourth and Giancarlo Fisichella went one ahead of Renault teammate Alonso for seventh. Rubens Barrichello, who had been pottering in the midfield, climbed to fifth in front of Michael and Zonta improved to seventh after being shuffled down the order.
Jarno Trulli's Toyota arrived in 10th and Jenson Button was the first BAR to set a time today, 13th. Montgany, who had been demoted down the order, went up to 15th but was replaced by Klien, while Juan Pablo Montoya slotted his McLaren into fourth. Wurz moved up to sixth and Alonso climbed back up the order to fourth.
Fisichella improved to sixth after also being shuffled down, and Massa to 12th, while Takuma Sato's BAR was on track but lapping rather casually in 19th. Teammate Button was in the midfield, taking 12th off Massa, and Coulthard went two better for 10th. Webber bought out the yellow flags when he spun into the gravel at turn 11.
There was a lull in track activity after that, then Klien started things off again when he improved to 13th. Barrichello and Alonso moved up in tandem to third and fourth respectively and Raikkonen was next on a flyer that promoted him to second, just six hundredths off Heidfeld. Wurz climbed to sixth and Sato moved up to 13th.
Heidfeld came to a halt near the pit entry with a drive line failure and got pushed back to the garage, while Zonta improved to sixth. Montoya was the next man on the move and took second from Raikkonen by a couple of hundredths, with a similar gap to Heidfeld at the top, just losing out slightly to the Williams in the last sector.
Monteiro had got himself back on track and was 20th but teammate Karthikeyan spun and came to a halt in the middle sector, bringing out the yellow flags again. Alonso improved to sixth after being moved down and Minardi's Patrick Friesacher finally got on track, after spending 50 minutes in the garage with a hydraulic gremlin, to clock 23rd.
In the last five minutes Ralf improved to 10th and Sato to 14th, while Liuzzi was yet another stopper, coming to a halt in the final sector with some kind of mechanical problem. Klien went up to 12th and Wurz belted out a last gasp flyer to take the top of the times with a 1:30.623, over a second quicker than Heidfeld, and Zonta followed into second.
McLaren and Williams looked to be pretty much on the pace today, with Renault, Toyota and Ferrari not far behind, but it's hard to judge. There were quite a few yellow flag disruptions, so although quite a few laps were being put in the times probably aren't entirely representative.
BAR seemed strangely subdued on its return to action, Sato 15th and Button 16th, while Montagny did a good job to get the Jordan in front of both Saubers for 17th. But Massa and Villeneuve racked up nearly 50 laps between them so there was a fair amount of work going on despite Sauber's lowly status.
Red Bull didn't look too happy, Klien an average 12th but Coulthard 14th and Liuzzi way down in 21st, while Friesacher and Karthikeyan rounded off the times with less than 10 laps each. Final top eight classification: Wurz, Zonta, Heidfeld, Montoya, Raikkonen, Webber, Barrichello, Alonso.