Unsurprisingly, it was again a third driver at the top of the times in Friday's second practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix. A late flyer by Toyota's Ricardo Zonta gave him the fastest time of the day, 1:20.409, and McLaren counterpart...
Unsurprisingly, it was again a third driver at the top of the times in Friday's second practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix. A late flyer by Toyota's Ricardo Zonta gave him the fastest time of the day, 1:20.409, and McLaren counterpart Alex Wurz followed into second, a tenth down. Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest of the race drivers, his McLaren in third.
The temperature was a few degrees higher than the morning practice, the track around 50 degrees at the start of the session. Wurz was first out to put in an installation lap, followed by the Minardis of Robert Doornbos and Christijan Albers, and Zonta. Wurz was first on the time sheet, 1:25.438.
Doornbos took second but was dropped one by Zonta taking the spot, then he in turn was demoted by Albers. Raikkonen didn't hang around and put his McLaren to the top with a 1:24.008, then Wurz ousted him by a tenth, 1:23.916. The McLaren pace continued with Juan Pablo Montoya next up, clocking 1:23.112 for the top.
Narain Karthikeyan's Jordan joined in seventh and Sauber's Felipe Massa started with fifth. Karthikeyan improved to the head of the Jordan/Minardi group in sixth and Montoya lowered his time slightly to 1:23.062. Zonta and Massa improved their times but stayed third and fifth respectively, then Jenson Button's BAR arrived in fourth.
Toyota's Jarno Trulli took the place off him, while the Red Bull of David Coulthard and the Sauber of Jacques Villeneuve clocked eighth and ninth respectively. Jordan No.3 Nicolas Kiesa made 14th but Michael Schumacher's Ferrari came to a halt on track in the middle sector before he managed to set a time.
Massa improved to seventh after being dropped down the order and teammate Villeneuve slotted in behind to take eighth. Button climbed one to third but was quickly replaced by the Toyota of Ralf Schumacher. Wurz edged closer to Montoya's time, the gap seven hundredths, then took over from his teammate with a 1:23.001, six hundredths up.
The Williams of Nick Heidfeld posted eighth and Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari arrived in seventh. Takuam Sato put his BAR 11th on his first effort, while Red Bull's Christian Klien and Williams' Mark Webber appeared in 14th and 15th respectively. Barrichello climbed to third and Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault clocked eighth.
Zonta took fourth, Fisichella moved up to sixth and Sato to eighth, while further down the field Klien made 12th and Monteiro led the Jordans and Minardis in 17th. Zonta took over at the top, 1:22.703, three tenths up on Wurz. Montoya responded with fastest sectors across the board to clock 1:21.662, just over a second quicker.
Raikkonen joined in but couldn't quite match Montoya, just under two tenths down for second. Fisichella went up to seventh after being shuffled down the times, then Raikkonen closed the gap to Montoya to six hundredths. Fernando Alonso's Renault posted sixth on his first flyer and Ralf made his way back up to seventh.
Coulthard jumped up the times to sixth then lost the place to Heidfeld and Button improved to third, nearly nine tenths off the pair of McLarens at the top. Klien, who had been idling in the midfield, suddenly shot up to fourth but was demoted a place when Wurz improved to third, making it a McLaren one-two-three again.
Red Bull third driver Tonio Liuzzi was late to set a time, 20 minutes left when he clocked 17th. Barrichello spoiled the McLaren party at the top when he took third and Albers went to 18th to head the Minardi/Jordan train, which also involved Villeneuve's Sauber at that point. Raikkonen went fastest with a 1:21.281, just under four tenths up on Montoya.
Alonso improved to fifth after being moved down the times and Trulli went up to second, a little over a tenth down on Raikkonen. Doornbos took over the lead of the backmarkers in 19th and at the opposite end of the field, Ralf moved up to slot into third. Fisichella spun his Renault in the final sector and stalled, which bought out the yellow flags briefly.
Liuzzi climbed to 14th, one behind teammate Coulthard, but there was little in the way of action towards the end. In the last few minutes Zonta, who had been outside the top ten, rocketed up to the top with a 1:20.409, nearly nine tenths up on Raikkonen. He was quickly followed by Wurz into second, just a tenth down.
Right at the end of the session Barrichello spun and hit the barrier somewhere in the middle sector, but it was not a major incident. So, as usual, it was the third drivers at the top of the times on Friday and Toyota was up there giving McLaren a run for its money. However, overall McLaren looked the stronger team.
"The track was very slippery early on and we had some problems with the balance but we worked hard to improve it," said Zonta. "I missed a few laps with a hydraulic problem at the end of the first session and with an overheating issue in the afternoon. But despite that we were still able to complete our long runs and put in a performance run."
Wurz was hampered by traffic at the end, otherwise he believed he could have been fastest. "I was focusing on long runs with the selection of Michelin tyres in mind, and we have enough data to assist our strategy planning for the rest of the weekend," he commented. "I like the track here as it is very challenging and the high temperatures are all part of that."
Raikkonen was happy enough with third, given the conditions. "Today has gone well and I am pretty happy with the balance of the car," said the Finn. "The track was still not at its best as it was rather dusty which is normal for the Friday at Hungary. I feel that there is still some room for us to improve and the times will drop once we have a clean and fast line."
It's hard to judge if Ferrari has made an improvement, as Michael didn't run in the second session after his initial problem, which appeared to be electrical. Barrichello was near the top of the times quite consistently but that doesn't necessarily mean a great deal on a Friday. We'll have to wait and see.
Renault appeared some way off the pace of McLaren, both Alonso and Fisichella over two seconds further down the times. But, as already mentioned, it's not wise to read too much into Friday times. BAR and Williams were similarly lagging, while Red Bull had a reasonably good showing with Klien and Coutlhard at the edge of the top ten.
Sauber finished in the low midfield; both drivers showed reasonable pace but generally suffered from oversteer. Doornbos was the best of the backmarkers in 19th, while Minardi No.3 Chanoch Nissany did not get out on track due to a hydraulic problem. Final top eight classification: Zonta, Wurz, Raikkonen, Trulli, R. Schumacher, Montoya, Barrichello, Alonso.