Zonta fastest on Turkish GP Friday

Zonta fastest on Turkish GP Friday

Ricardo Zonta put in a last second flying lap to snatch the fastest time of the day from McLaren in the second practice session for the Turkish Grand Prix. Toyota's third driver clocked a best of 1:25.583, six tenths up on McLaren counterpart...

Ricardo Zonta put in a last second flying lap to snatch the fastest time of the day from McLaren in the second practice session for the Turkish Grand Prix. Toyota's third driver clocked a best of 1:25.583, six tenths up on McLaren counterpart Pedro de la Rosa. Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen reinforced McLaren's pace with third and fourth fastest.

Ricardo Zonta.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Conditions were similar to the earlier session, with a track temperature in the high thirties as Minardi's Christijan Albers and de la Rosa led the pack out. Albers clocked the first time of 1:36.580 but was quickly eclipsed by de la Rosa's 1:30.759. Red Bull No.3 Tonio Liuzzi took second but was demoted by Zonta.

Raikkonen's McLaren took over at the top, 1:29.659, and teammate Montoya arrived in sixth. Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve posted third but was replaced by teammate Felipe Massa, while Narain Karthikeyan put his Jordan seventh. Montoya was next to the top, 1:29.001, to make it a McLaren one-two-three.

Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari clocked eighth and Fernando Alonso put his Renault one better for seventh. His teammate Giancarlo Fisichella posted fourth on his first effort and Montoya improved his time to 1:27.941. Villeneuve moved up to fifth after being shuffled down and Michael Schumacher's Ferrari arrived in sixth.

Alonso climbed to third and further down the field Christian Klien put his Red Bull 13th and Jenson Button's BAR was 15th. Zonta improved to third and Red Bull's David Coulthard went one behind Liuzzi for 12th. Button then went up to fifth and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello to 10th, while Mark Webber's Williams clocked seventh initially.

Massa climbed to 10th after falling down the times, and Klien likewise to 13th, followed by Toyota's Ralf Schumacher into 14th. Alonso improved his time but stayed fourth and Massa improved again, this time to seventh. De la Rosa returned to the top with a 1:27.908 but was immediately demoted by Zonta's 1:27.194.

Montoya moved into third and Nick Heidfeld's Williams climbed to 12th. Jarno Trulli's Toyota started with 15th and Albers led the Minardi/Jordan group in 20th. Ralf Schumacher's Toyota improved to sixth, Webber to ninth and BAR's Takuma Sato to 10th. Raikkonen moved back up the order to fourth and Michael to eighth.

Montoya improved to second, just over two tenths off Zonta, then set fastest sectors across the board to take the top spot with a 1:26.525, nearly seven tenths up on the Toyota. Fisichella moved up to seventh and then to fifth but about half way through there was a lull in the activity. Jordan's Tiago Monteiro moved up to 20th to lead the backmarkers.

De la Rosa improved his time but stayed third and Heidfeld climbed to 14th. Red Bull teammates Coulthard and Klien improved in tandem to 13th and 14th respectively, while team third driver Liuzzi was 11th. Sato was idling in the midfield, down in 14th, while Zonta and Raikkonen scorched round together for second and third respectively.

Sato made an effort for 11th and de la Rosa took over the third spot, then had another go for second, three tenths off Montoya. He stayed for another lap and closed the gap to a tenth. Alonso improved to sixth, Trulli to 12th and Liuzzi to eighth, then Trulli climbed again to take the place from the Red Bull.

Webber went up to sixth and in the last few minutes there was a little flurry of activity. Zonta finally ousted Montoya from the top with a 1:26.259, two and a half tenths up, and Sato improved to sixth. De la Rosa demoted Zonta by six hundredths, 1:26.196, and Alonso climbed to fifth. At the very last second Zonta clocked 1:25.583, finally into the predicted lap time bracket and six tenths up on de la Rosa.

"The lap time is a lot quicker than we expected because the track surface is better," said Zonta. "Of course the grip improved throughout the day, and we also saw some tyre graining, but we have plenty of data to look at tonight. It's looking good so far."

Despite Zonta's final fling, McLaren impressed the most and looks ferociously fast -- if we take the two third drivers out of the picture, Montoya and Raikkonen are the top of the race drivers. All three McLaren men were consistently quick but of the Toyota race drivers, Trulli was best in ninth, well over two seconds down on Zonta.

"A productive first day here in Turkey," said McLaren boss Ron Dennis. "We completed our scheduled programme and are happy with the data we have obtained so far from this impressive but demanding new circuit. The work we have done back home preparing for this track has allowed us to arrive well prepared."

Button was only hundredths shy of Raikkonen's time but Sato was just on the edge of the top ten. Renault was solidly, if not particularly notably, comfortable with Alonso seventh and Fisichella eighth. De la Rosa's car failure in the first practice reminds us of McLaren's dubious reliability, while Renault appears slower but well balanced.

"It was good that we were able to run more laps than normal today, after saving the engine a bit in Hungary, so that I could really get to know the track properly," said championship leader Alonso. "I felt very comfortable out there, and really enjoyed the sessions today."

Ferrari does not seem so far to have carried its form from Hungary to Turkey. Michael ended in 13th and Barrichello 15th and neither looked likely to challenge the front runners through both sessions. The rest were unremarkable, it was pretty much business as usual for a Friday. Final top eight classification: Zonta, de la Rosa, Montoya, Raikkonen Button, Liuzzi, Alonso, Fisichella.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan