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Friday analysis - McLaren calm, Ferrari confident 24 Aug 2007

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 24 August 2007 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2007.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 24 August 2007 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF107.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 24 August 2007 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 24 August 2007 (L to R): Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Team and Sakon Yamamoto (JPN) Spyker.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 24 August 2007

Lewis Hamilton says he is very relaxed this weekend after McLaren’s recent Hungarian problems have been smoothed over, and he set Friday afternoon’s fastest time at Istanbul Park with 1m 28.469s (which was the third-fastest time overall after the Ferraris had gone faster in different conditions in the morning).

Hamilton lost time in the first session with a small gearbox oil leak which caused the clutch to slip, then in the second found the MP4-22, “very, very good up until the red flag, then less good afterwards because the track had changed slightly to understeer. You had to drive differently.” Alonso had the same problem, but was confident that McLaren, “have one of the strongest cars out there.” He was sixth in the afternoon on 1m 28.947s.

With Kimi Raikkonen fastest in the morning - and overall - with his lap of 1m 27.988s, Ferrari are also feeling confident, especially as the Finn was close behind Hamilton in the afternoon with 1m 28.762s. Felipe Massa went well in the morning, and was happy because only Raikkonen’s car had the latest aerodynamic updates in that session. He was fifth in the afternoon on 1m 28.884s.

In between the two giants sat Toyota, and both Ralf Schumacher (third on 1m 28.773s) and Jarno Trulli (fourth on 1m 28.874s) were happy. The German was the happier, however, as the Italian complained of a slight lack of confidence under braking which he believes can be alleviated by a set-up change.

At Williams, Nico Rosberg was again on strong form, with sixth fastest time in the morning and seventh (1m 28.995s) in the afternoon. Team mate Alex Wurz was only 18th in the first session as he struggled with the set-up, but ninth on 1m 29.093s in the second.

Renault looked better in the morning, with Heikki Kovalainen fifth and Giancarlo Fisichella eighth, than they did in the afternoon when they were eighth and 12th respectively. Kovalainen was happy with his R27’s balance in the morning, but lost his best run in the afternoon due to the yellow flags for Anthony Davidson’s accident, while Fisichella had an engine mapping problem on his final run. He said his R27’s balance was a little inconsistent. It was the Italian, incidentally, who inadvertently dislodged the manhole cover in Turn 10 that led to the lengthy stoppage of the second session.

BMW Sauber rarely go really quickly on a Friday, and this was no exception with Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica ninth and 11th in the morning and 10th and 13th (their order reversed) in the afternoon. The Pole was pretty happy, but the German complained about his F1.07’s handling even before the red flag.

Red Bull had a quiet morning as far as times were concerned, but in the afternoon David Coulthard got wound up to record 11th fastest. This was satisfying for the Scot after a fuel leak had caused his RB3 to spin and catch fire right at the end of the first session. The team had to fix the leak and change the engine (no penalty incurred as it was a Friday ‘test’ day), so the team did well to get things together in time and were helped a little by the red flag delay. While Coulthard was happy, Mark Webber struggled all day to find decent grip from the sister car.

Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello found their Hondas consistent, if nothing else, with 14th and 15th fastest times respectively in each session. Button wasn’t happy with the set-up of his RA107 until right at the end of the afternoon session, when Barrichello damaged his car after running over the manhole cover. Up until then he had been happier with his car than his team mate was with his.

Takuma Sato was pleased enough with his Super Aguri on the way to 16th fastest time in the afternoon, but Anthony Davidson lost control of his in Turn Three when running on Bridgestone’s option rubber, and lightly damaged the front end against the tyre wall.

Tonio Liuzzi was happy with his Toro Rosso’s balance in the morning when he was 15th fastest, but the afternoon worked out less well as he slumped to 19th - one place ahead of team mate Sebastian Vettel.

At Spyker, they made the most of the old A-spec car in the absence of the B-spec update, and Sakon Yamamoto was very happy to lap very little slower than team mate Adrian Sutil (1m 31.175s to 1m 31.153s in the afternoon). Like most teams, they had a relatively trouble-free day.

Most runners stayed with the harder, prime Bridgestone tyre, with only nine runners trying the medium compound option. All of the really fast times came on the prime tyre.

Inevitably, the track will get quicker as more rubber goes down on Saturday, and at this stage McLaren and Ferrari seem pretty evenly matched with Toyota, Williams, Renault and BMW Sauber all capable of being the ‘best of the rest’.