Wurz blitzes Bahrain practice 01 Apr 2005
Alexander Wurz made a strong return to active Formula One duty for McLaren by setting the fastest time in this afternoons second practice session in Bahrain. Wurzs form was all the more impressive given that the 31 year-old Austrian had never driven the MP4-20, or the Sakhir circuit, before today.
Alexander Wurz made a strong return to active Formula One duty for McLaren by setting the fastest time in this afternoons second practice session. Wurzs form was all the more impressive given that the 31 year-old Austrian had never driven the MP4-20 or the Sakhir circuit, before today.
Wurz was the first man to show his hand with a low-fuel run, having set the initial pace with a lap of 1m 33.844s before trimming that to 1m 33.633s. That remained fastest until team mate Kimi Raikkonen lapped his MP4-20 in 1m 33.297s. Jarno Trulli shaved that by 0.002s for Toyota, and then Wurz decimated the time with his eventual best of 1m 30.695s. That compares favourably with Michael Schumachers pole time from 2004 of 1m 30.139s.
Close to the end of the session Fernando Alonso showed Renaults strength with second fastest time of 1m 31.969s while still running a reasonable fuel load.
Vitantonio Liuzzi was another late improver for Red Bull. After conducting long runs for the team the Italian lapped in 1m 32.319s for third best time, ahead of Pedro de la Rosas McLaren on 1m 32.333s; Michael Schumachers Ferrari on 1m 32.431s; Trulli on 1m 32.595s; Giancarlo Fisichellas Renault on 1m 32.708s; and Raikkonen on 1m 32.988s.
Both Schumacher and Raikkonen were pushing hard enough to suffer prolonged lock-up of their front wheels at various points, but this will not affect their tyre allocation for the race as teams can run sets of the prime and option tyres today prior to making their final choice for the rest of the weekend in time for the start of practice tomorrow morning.
Jenson Button just missed out on a 1m 32s lap with 1m 33.037s for BAR, and Ralf Schumacher was likewise close. The German had a spin in Turn One and later ran wide in Turn 10, but eventually lapped in 1m 33.077s to round out the top 10.
Nick Heidfeld was the quicker of the Williams drivers, 11th fastest on 1m 33.152s compared to Mark Webbers 1m 33.563s which was only 15th, so close were the times in the midfield. They were separated by Takuma Sato, Christian Klien and Ricardo Zonta. The Japanese drivers BAR stopped in Turn Eight at one stage when the anti-stall system malfunctioned but was resuscitated in the pits and he lapped in 1m 33.205s when he got going again.
Kliens best for Red Bull was 1m 33.436s and morning leader Zonta posted 1m 33.443s for Toyota after gearbox problems hit his TF105. Behind Webber, David Coulthard took his Red Bull round in 1m 33.708s, followed by Felipe Massa on 1m 33.726s and Narain Karthikeyan who impressed with 1m 33.981s. The Indians lap beat team-mate Robert Doornbos (1m 34.222s), while Tiago Monteiro in the third EJ15 was 21st on 1m 34.727s, a place behind Jacques Villeneuve who took his Sauber to 1m 34.300s.
At the back, Patrick Friesacher lapped his Minardi in 1m 35.325s, leaving team mate Christijan Albers 23rd on 1m 36.094s.
The only driver who failed to record a lap for the unfortunate Rubens Barrichello, who watched the session from the pit wall after his new Ferrari F2005 developed a gearbox problem.
As expected, the circuit was quite sandy in places, and plenty of drivers had moments outbraking themselves or sliding in the corners as the track temperature climbed to 54 degrees Celsius.
With the Ferrari-Bridgestone partnership looking to have clearly raised their game since Sepang, and with McLaren matching Renaults pace, all looks set for a thrilling first qualifying session on Saturday.