McLaren ahead as engine woes hit BMW-powered team
Pedro de la Rosa gave his countrymen what they wanted as practice got underway at the Circuit de Catalunya this morning, taking his McLaren round in 1m 15.675s to set the fastest time.
This was six-tenths of a second off Michael Schumachers 2004 pole time of 1m 15.022s, and compares with the Germans fastest race lap of 1m 17.450s.
The main talking point, however, was BAR exclusion and failure to secure an injunction against it. As others prepared their machines, BAR are already breaking camp and heading for home.
While the weekend was a disaster for BAR, it didnt get off to a great start for Nick Heidfeld and Williams, either. Inspection showed that his BMW P84/5 engine, which was used in Imola, has a defective exhaust valve. Accordingly Williams have had to change the engine for one of the same latest specification that team-mate Mark Webber is scheduled to use. As a consequence, Heidfeld will do all of the set-up running today and will, of course, get a 10 grid-place penalty after qualifying. Webber, meanwhile, will not participate in either of todays sessions.
As Christian Klien took his Red Bull to second fastest time of 1m 16.821s, Heidfeld was third on 1m 17.047s. He was followed by Schumacher, who did 14 laps for Ferrari en route to 1m 17.574s, and Kimi Raikkonen who confined himself to just seven laps for McLaren for a 1m 17.851s best. David Coulthard completed the 1m 17s runners with 1m 17.977s. He was sixth, ahead of Ricardo Zontas Toyota (1m 18.103s) and Tonio Liuzzis Red Bull (1m 18.112s). Ralf Schumacher did only six laps for Toyota, for a best of 1m 18.204s.
Juan Pablo Montoya was back in harness for the first time since his Easter accident, and in his nine laps the Colombian lapped his McLaren in 1m 18.4023s and said he felt quite comfortable.
Felipe Massa and Jacques Villeneuve came out late in the session, to record laps of 1m 19.328s (11th) and 1m 20.621s (12th) respectively for Sauber. Tiago Monteiro was the quickest of the three Jordans on 1m 20.773s, team mates Robert Doornbos and Narain Karthikeyan exploring the gravel on their way to 1m 20.912s and 1m 21.628s respectively.
Christijan Albers was another gravel visitor, first in Turn 10 early in the session, and later in Turn Three where his Minardi PS05 remained beached. The Dutchman lapped in 1m 21.635s, ahead of team mate Patrick Friesachers 1m 22.454s best.
Rubens Barrichello, Jarno Trulli and the Renault drivers did only installation laps, while Webber did not run at all, as planned.