Saturday, July 23, 2005

MCLAREN mighty in Saturday first practice 

McLaren carried over its Friday dominance into Saturday morning’s first practice session at Hockenheim, with Kimi Raikkonen narrowly shading Juan Pablo Montoya for a Woking 1-2.

The silver cars have been in a class of their own so far in Germany, and outpaced their closest competition by three-quarters of a second in the first of the two 45-minute sessions that lead up to qualifying.

Bucking the trend established earlier this season, it was the Renaults that went out first and steadily racked up the mileage while the McLaren drivers held a watching brief from behind the pit wall.

World championship leader Fernando Alonso set the ball rolling with a 1m16.702s lap 13 minutes into the session, but that mark was obliterated when Raikkonen took to the track after 25 minutes.

The Finn’s second flying lap yielded a 1m15.992s, and next time around he improved to a 1m15.823s.

Montoya briefly eclipsed his team-mate with an impressive 1m15.753s on his first hot lap, but Kimi had the last word in the final couple of minutes and pipped JPM by 0.069s.

Alonso could manage only a 1m16.477s, but Renault appeared to be concentrating on longer runs while McLaren kept mileage to a minimum – witness Montoya’s total of five laps compared to 14 apiece for Alonso and Fisichella.

The last five minutes of the session saw a handful of big improvements, with Christian Klien vaulting to fourth place for Red Bull Racing ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Massa, who was similarly rapid yesterday.

David Coulthard put a disjointed Friday behind him with the sixth quickest time, underlining Red Bull’s improved form compared to recent outings, while Mark Webber finally gave Williams some faint cause for optimism with the seventh best time.

Jarno Trulli (Toyota), Fisichella and Takuma Sato (BAR) rounded out the top ten, with Ferrari duo Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher languishing in 14th and 15th respectively.

Alonso, Barrichello and Jordan's Narain Karthikeyan all had off-course excursions but there were no major incidents.

Saturday first practice times from Hockenheim
1. RAIKKONEN McLaren 1m15.684s
2. MONTOYA McLaren 1m15.753s
3. ALONSO Renault 1m16.477s
4. KLIEN Red Bull 1m16.698s
5. MASSA Sauber 1m16.799s
6. COULTHARD Red Bull 1m16.926s
7. WEBBER Williams 1m16.961s
8. TRULLI Toyota 1m17.053s
9. FISICHELLA Renault 1m17.061s
10. SATO BAR 1m17.331s
11. BUTTON BAR 1m17.397s
12. VILLENEUVE Sauber 1m17.408s
13. HEIDFELD Williams 1m17.536s
14. BARRICHELLO Ferrari 1m17.599s
15. M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari 1m17.617s
16. KARTHIKEYAN Jordan 1m18.102s
17. ALBERS Minardi 1m18.217s
18. R.SCHUMACHER Toyota 1m18.229s
19. DOORNBOS Minardi 1m19.083s
20. MONTEIRO Jordan 1m19.103s

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