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Hungary day one - Raikkonen leads 13 Aug 2004

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/19B.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Hungarian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary, 13 August 2004 (L to R): Jean Todt (FRA) Ferrari Sporting Director with Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari signing a hat for a fan.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Hungarian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary, 13 August 2004 Nick Heidfeld (GER) Jordan Ford EJ14.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Hungarian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary, 13 August 2004 Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Hungarian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary, 13 August 2004 Anthony Davidson (GBR) BAR Test Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Hungarian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary, 13 August 2004

McLaren’s belief that they can win the Hungarian Grand Prix took another step closer to realisation this afternoon as Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time during second practice.

Once again it had been Michael Schumacher setting the pace as temperatures climbed and fell and cloud gathered from time to time during the hour. The champion had been fastest this morning and carried on his work this afternoon with a best lap of 1m 21.009s, to snatch back the advantage from an on-form Juan Pablo Montoya whose 1m 21.185s lap had beaten Schumacher’s 1m 21.551s previous best. But then Raikkonen became the first to dip below 1m 21s, his 1m 20.884s lap being well beneath Fernando Alonso’s 2003 pole time of 1m 21.688s.

Proving that this was no flash in the pan, David Coulthard was a strong fourth on 1m 21.203s in the wake of Schumacher and Montoya. Once again the times are very close, with just over a second separating the first 11 runners.

Olivier Panis again demonstrated Toyota’s improving form with fifth fastest time in the latest TF104B of 1m 21.352s, then Takuma Sato upstaged BAR team mate Jenson Button, with 1m 21.364s compared to 1m 21.685s. The Englishman did, however, have a lot of traffic at the end of his lappery. Between them sat Antonio Pizzonia, who again showed good form in the Williams to lap in 1m 21.574s. Rubens Barrichello had initially been fastest, but his eventual 1m 21.712s left him ninth ahead of Fernando Alonso (1m 21.948s) and Mark Webber (1m 21.999s) for Renault and Jaguar respectively.

Anthony Davidson was 12th for BAR on 1m 22.356s, pursued by Bjorn Wirdheim, having his best outing of the year with Jaguar on 1m 22.559s. Nick Heidfeld headed the Jordan trio with 1m 22.651s, with Timo Glock next on 1m 22.697s and Giorgio Pantano 19th on 1m 22.937s.

Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa struggled with understeer in their Bridgestone-shod Saubers, both going wide into the gravel momentarily in Turn Four. The Italian lapped in 1m 22.743s for 16th, the Brazilian 1m 23.188s for 22nd.

Like Alonso, Jarno Trulli had tyre graining problems (as did most others) and struggled to get his Renault balanced on his way to 17th fastest 1m 22.788s.

Back at Toyota, Ricardo Zonta and Ryan Briscoe had less satisfactory afternoons than Panis; the Brazilian’s 1m 22.808s lap left him only 18th, while the young Australian could not repeat this morning’s impressive performance and ended 21st on 1m 23.170s. That left him just behind former F3 sparring partner Christian Klien, who lapped his Jaguar in 1m 23.003s. The three Minardis were the final runners, with Bas Lienders again upstaging local buy Zsolt Baumgartner and Gianmaria Bruni, who spun off exiting Turn One and did not continue. They lapped in 1m 25.339s, 1m 25.450s and 1m 26.365s respectively.

Again, the track conditions and other factors led to inconsistencies today that mask true potential, but generally speaking McLaren and Williams look to be in strong form in comparison with Ferrari, who said that their Bridgestone tyres were very much better than the tyres they ran here last year. The red cars still start the favourites, but it could be very close in qualifying tomorrow afternoon.