McLaren lead, but Ferrari have top race driver
Slippery conditions kept the drivers on their toes at the Hungaroring this morning in opening practice for Sundays Hungarian Grand Prix.
Alex Wurz set the initial pace for McLaren chased by Jenson Button for BAR and Michael Schumacher for Ferrari. The Austrian lapped his MP4-20 in 1m 23.360s, the Englishman in 1m 23.701s and the German in 1m 23.775s. Rubens Barrichello backed his team mate strongly with 1m 23.879s.
The main times came at the end of the hour-long session, and when the dust settled the top 10 order was: Wurz 1m 21.411s; Barrichello 1m 22.834s; Button 1m 23.028s; Raikkonen 1m 23.159s; Schumacher Snr 1m 23.234s; Felipe Massa 1m 23.375s; Nick Heidfeld 1m 23.384s; Juan Pablo Montoya 1m 23.558s; Takuma Sato 1m 23.679s; and Ralf Schumacher 1m 23.704s.
For comparison the lap record stands to Michael Schumacher at 1m 19.071s from 2004, when he took pole position in 1m 19.146s.
Jarno Trulli ran only eighth laps for 11th fastest 1m 23.764s, which put him ahead of Fernando Alonso on 1m 23.833s. Unusually Renault ran both cars in this initial session, Giancarlo Fisichella finishing 13th on 1m 23.940s, the final one of 12 cars bracketed in the 1m 23s. Mark Webber was sandwiched between the blue cars with 1m 23.940s.
All three Red Bulls had 12 series Cosworth engines this time, so that test driver Tonio Liuzzi could help out with mapping, but the Italians car lacked the very latest maximum downforce aerodynamic package. The Italian lapped in 1m 21.174s for 15th as his team-mates stayed in the garage after doing installation laps. Ricardo Zonta posted 1m 24.270s in his Toyota TF105 for 16th fastest time, but the car later ground to a halt on the entry to the pit lane and had to be pushed home.
Jacques Villeneuve managed 1m 24.683s for Sauber, then there was a gap before Narain Karthikeyan headed former Jordan team mate Robert Doornbos, 1m 26.130s to 1m 27.011s, and then came Tiago Monteiro on 1m 27.344s. Christijan Albers lapped his Minardi in 1m 27.540s ahead of Jordans Nicolas Kiesa on 1m 28.230s. Chanoch Nissany, the sometime Israeli test driver who lives in Budapest, celebrated his 42nd birthday by driving the third Minardi. Predictably he was the slowest runner with 1m 34.319s, before beaching himself in the gravel in Turn Four.
As the track temperature hit 49 degrees Celsius and the ambient 34, the conditions were such that Kiesa twitched his Jordan off the road in Turn 13 early on while going round a slow Alonso who was on his out lap, then later found the gravel in Turn Four; Zonta spun in Turn Two; Liuzzi had three spins (Turns One, 11, 12); and even Schumacher Snr went off at Turn 11. As usual, the problem was the dust which is a result of the combination of dry weather in the region and a light breeze.