McLaren head Ferrari in final practice 30 Jul 2005
McLaren boss Ron Dennis got the one-two he wanted by the time practice finished here in Hungary this morning, but whether he will get it in qualifying this afternoon is a moot point.
There was a slow start to the day when only seven cars did installation laps in the first half of the first session, which ended with Kimi Raikkonen just shading Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, 1m 21.686 to 1m 21.842s and 1m 21.980s. When everyone did get going there were again plenty of incidents on the dirty surface; Robert Doornbos spun in Turn Four, and in separate incidents Jarno Trulli, Mark Webber, Christian Klien, David Coulthard and Christijan Albers all had off-course moments.
The second session was always going to be the faster. By the finish, Raikkonen pulled out the stops in the first and second sectors to improve his own fastest time to 1m 20.20s, but with a slightly better third sector he could well have been in the 1m 19s. Close behind, Juan Pablo Montoyas best was 1m 20.517s, but worryingly for the silver arrows, Michael Schumacher wound his Ferrari round in 1m 20.77s for third and Rubens Barrichello was fifth on 1m 21.266s. The red cars will be a threat this afternoon, when all of the top runners are likely to go for three-stop refuelling strategies to optimise their grid positions on a circuit where overtaking is so difficult.
Ralf Schumacher gave Toyota hope on a morning when Jarno Trulli stopped out on the circuit (in Turn Four) with a car problem. The German was fourth with 1m 20.90s and now seems to finishing some form. Trullis had got down to 1m 22.699s before his problem left him down in 14th place.
On this occasion Giancarlo Fisichella had the quicker Renault, and there is just a hint that the blues might be struggling this weekend. The Italian lapped in 1m 21.276s for sixth, but Fernando Alonso was only eighth with 1m 21.6s. In between them came the beleaguered Jenson Button, who wheeled his BAR round in 1m 21.01s. Takuma Sato was ninth on 1m 21.880s.
Right at the end Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld improved, the Australian to 10th fastest 1m 21.889s, the German to 1m 21.918s for 11th. Christian Klien was again just ahead of Red Bull team mate David Coulthard, 1m 22.40s to 1m 22.54s. Behind Trulli, Felipe Massa needed all he could get from his Sauber to scrape ahead of the remarkable Christijan Albers, who hustled his Minardi round in 1m 22.979s to leave a few jaws gaping. Massa did 1m 22.75s, while team mate Jacques Villeneuve was right on his tail with 1m 22.985s. Robert Doornbos was rather overshadowed by Albers performance, but his 1m 2.58s best was sufficient to contain the Jordan challenge, as Narain Karthikeran made a late improvement to 1m 24.265s to head Tiago Monteiro on 1m 24.628s. The Indian has benefited this weekend from some avuncular advice from Montoya.
There was some good news for Jordan, besides the arrival of Johnny Herbert as their new sporting relations manager; Toyota confirmed this morning that they will continue to supply the team with engines next year.
The stage is thus set for a great qualifying battle this afternoon, especially as poor Raikkonen will be the first man out on the dusty track when the session starts. He will have his work cut out to get anywhere near the front row, if this mornings times are anything to go by.