Sato storms Saturday practice 08 May 2004
BAR on top, but this time it's not Button
BAR's Takuma Sato was the first man to dip below the 1m 15s barrier in Barcelona this morning, as the Honda-powered team stayed on target ahead of qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.
The first practice was another almost incident-free session, only Gianmaria Bruni going off in Turn 8 in his Minardi upsetting the rhythm. In that one Jenson Button again annexed the fastest time, with1m 15.984s for BAR, but again the times behind him were close as Renaults Jarno Trulli banged in a 1m 16.015s with Juan Pablo Montoya right behind him on 1m 16.048s. The Williams team dialed in both cars well, for Ralf Schumacher was next of 1m 16.233s just ahead of brother Michael on 1m 16.519s. Sato completed the top six with a 1m 16.685s.
When the second session started Kimi Raikkonen immediately kicked off with 1m 15.983s, and David Coulthard jumped up to 1m 16.196s to make a temporary McLaren one-two. They were soon deposed when Mark Webber wound the Jaguar round in 1m 15.895s, but before long Schumachers Ferrari hit 1m 15.025s. This rather redefined things, especially as Buttons response was only a 1m 15.627s. If Ferraris speed concerned BAR, so did Montoyas 1m 15.232s and Trullis 1m 15.457s. But not for long, as Sato moved the goalposts again with a staggering 1m 14.836s.
The track had been slightly damp at the start of the mornings practice, but now it had begun to reach its peak and conditions were pretty much perfect as the times fell. Coulthard improved to 1m 15.768s for seventh ahead of Renaults Fernando Alonso on 1m 15.874s, while Webbers time held up for ninth overall in front of Toyotas Cristiano da Matta, who pipped Raikkonens previous time by equaling Webber.
Ralf Schumacher should have gone quicker than 1m 16.308s, but was baulked right at the end on his quick lap, and Jaguars Christian Klien and Jordans Nick Heidfeld were the final runners in the 1m 16s with 1m 16.648s and 1m 16.746s respectively.
Neither Giancarlo Fisichella (1m 17.145s) nor Felipe Massa (1m 17.282s) were very happy with the grip of their Saubers, and Jordans Giorgio Pantano only managed 1m 17.665s after a spin in Turn 10 early in the second session. Toyotas Olivier Panis was less fortunate and pulled off terminally with a mechanical problem in Turn 3 soon after the session began.
This time, Zsolt Baumgartner was the faster Minardi pilot with 1m 20.449s compared to Gianmaria Brunis 1m 21.005s.