Finn leaves it late to stamp his authority over rivals
After a session of locking wheels, spins and general complaint about concreted repairs that had to be made to the new track surface after yesterday, Fernando Alonso seemed to have done enough to take the fastest times in the closing minute of this mornings final practice.
he paniards Renault stopped the clocks in 1m 14.670ss, but he had not even completed his slowing down lap before Kimi Raikkonen put himself ahead of McLaren team mate Juan Pablo Montoya for the first time in the session with 1m 14.232s, leapfrogging the championship leader in the process.
It might have been a long time coming, especially after the Finn had earlier spoiled a good lap by cutting the final corner, but it was worth the wait. It also left the Colombian, who had been fastest for a long time on 1m 14.745s, feeling slightly miffed.
Giancarlo Fisichella, too, saw his position drop in that final minute, having run Montoya closest of all in his Renault with 1m 14.746s on a circuit he loves.
Not to be outdone, akuma ato boosted BARs hopes with a strong 1m 14.883s, to round out the aces sector despite going off in urn 8 on one lap.
Ralf chumacher made a late improvement to 1m 15.280s for oyota, pushing Jenson Button down a place after the Englishman had earlier lapped in 1m 15.282s to underline BARs revival.
Michael chumacher improved to eighth after a big brake locking moment in the hairpin and then a spin in urn 7, taking the Ferrari round in 1m 15.316s. eam mate Rubens Barrichello, however, did not better 1m 15.995s for 11th fastest time.
Between them were the Williams with Nick Heidfeld just shading Mark Webber, 1m 15.723s to 1m 15.894s. At one stage the German cut the chicane in urn 9.
Felipe Massa reasserted himself at auber with a lap of 1m 16.020s, a time almost matched by Jarno rullis 1m 16.063s for oyota. David Coulthard was 14th for Red Bull with 1m 16.341s, going off three times in urn 1 in the course of the session, and then Jacques Villeneuve and Christian Klien shared 15th place each on 1m 16.355s. he Austrian had a spin in urn 1.
Narain Karthikeyan was another spinner, in urn 7, but got the upper hand over iago Monteiro and Minardi. he Indian posted 1m 17.215s compared to his team mates 1m 17.618s, but the Minardis were close. Patrick Friesacher was 19th on 1m 17.612s, and Christijan Albers recovered from a spin in urn 10 and another in urn 1 to post 1m 17.725s.
With the times so close at the front, strategies are going to be crucially important for qualifying this afternoon.