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McLaren claim Friday advantage in China 14 Oct 2005

Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/20 Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19,  Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, 14 October 2005 Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Toyota TF105 leaves the pits.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19,  Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, 14 October 2005 Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) Sauber Petronas C24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19,  Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, 14 October 2005 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R25 leaves the pits.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19,  Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, 14 October 2005 Tiago Monteiro (POR) Jordan EJ15B in the pits.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19,  Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, 14 October 2005

McLaren maintained their hold on the fastest time in Shanghai on Friday afternoon, courtesy of Pedro de la Rosa. The Spaniard pushed his MP4-20 round in 1m 32.834s to beat Toyota’s Friday test driver Ricardo Zonta who posted 1m 32.977s.

Both times were comfortably below Rubens Barrichello’s 2004 pole time of 1m 34.012s, even though conditions were relatively cool as low cloud persisted throughout the day and brought a high level of moisture in the air. The explanation given by the tyre manufacturers is that wear on the circuit’s bitumen has exposed more of the underlying asphalt, giving rise to concern that the race will be even more gruelling than last year’s when even the fittest drivers found it taxing.

Behind the two Friday men, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso were almost inseparable. The Finn lapped his McLaren in 1m 34.092s, the Spaniard his Renault in 1m 34.226s. Juan Pablo Montoya and Barrichello were close to them with 1m 34.541s and 1m 34.618s respectively, while Giancarlo Fisichella took his Renault to 1m 34.932s for seventh-fastest time.

Mark Webber continued to show Williams’s recent improvement with eighth best lap of 1m 35.035s to beat Jenson Button’s 1m 35.072s. Felipe Massa completed the top 10 with 1m 35.196s in his Sauber.

David Coulthard and Vitantonio Liuzzi were evenly matched at Red Bull in 11th and 12th places, on 1m 35.201s and 1m 35.306s respectively, but team mate Christian Klien was left 15th on 1m 35.613s after suffering a right rear tyre failure at the end of the session.

In 13th and 14th were Spa protagonists Takuma Sato (1m 35.397s) and Michael Schumacher (1m 35.567s), and behind Klien, Antonio Pizzonia had a right rear suspension problem which caused him to spin in Turn 11. The Brazilian had lapped within hundredths of Webber at the time, but had little time left after repairs to get down to his eventual 1m 35.709s. That left him ahead of Jacques Villeneuve whose last lap yielded 1m 35.894s. The Toyotas of Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli were 18th and 19th on 1m 36.051s and 1m 36.079s respectively. The German had a couple of off-course adventures, while the Italian was left to push his car to safety after it stopped in the first sector late in the session with a suspected clutch problem.

Nicolas Kiesa was the fastest Jordan runner with 1m 36.644s despite a spin in Turn Two, then came Robert Doornbos for Minardi with 1m 36.993s. Christijan Albers chased his team-mate with 1m 37.173s, and Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan brought up the rear on 1m 37.435s and 1m 37.467s respectively.