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Zonta steals McLaren's thunder 19 Aug 2005

Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Toyota TF105.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 19 August 2005 Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 19 August 2005 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Red Bull Racing RB1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 19 August 2005 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault R25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 19 August 2005 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 19 August 2005

Toyota’s Ricardo Zonta banged in the quickest time of the weekend so far in the closing minutes of Friday afternoon’s practice for the inaugural Turkish Grand prix, but overall it has been McLaren who have set the pace on day one at Istanbul Park.

Zonta’s lap of 1m 25.583s was a fine performance, however, as the Brazilian, and McLaren’s Pedro de la Rosa, edged ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya. The Spaniard lapped in 1m 26.196s, while the deposed Colombian had taken his MP4-20 round in 1m 26.525s. He was running different specification tyres to Kimi Raikkonen, who was fourth fastest on 1m 27.274s. Interestingly, Montoya’s best lap came just as an overcast sky deposited some drizzle on the new track, which has drawn rave reviews from all of the drivers. Jacques Villeneuve typified their comments when he said: “This is a great track! It has a really nice flow, a variety of different corners and is really good to drive.”

Jenson Button was close to Raikkonen with 1m 27.346s for BAR, and then came the star of the afternoon, Vitantonio Liuzzi. Despite running an earlier aerodynamic specification to team mates David Coulthard and Christian Klien, the Italian whirled his Red Bull RB1 round in 1m 27.578s to push ahead of series leader Fernando Alonso who lapped his Renault in 1m 27.579s. Giancarlo Fisichella on 1m 27.673s for Renault and Jarno Trulli on 1m 27.964s for Toyota completed the sub-1m 28s runners.

Takuma Sato rounded out the top 10 with 1m 28.081s to beat Mark Webber, whose late improvement moved his Williams up to 11th on 1m 28.120s. Coulthard was next on 1m 28.235s, followed by Michael Schumacher (1m 28.293s), Villeneuve (1m 28.404s), Rubens Barrichello (1m 28.460s), Ralf Schumacher (1m 28.641s), Felipe Massa (1m 28.681s), Klien (1m 28.828s) and Nick Heidfeld (1m 28.959s).

Friday is the day when teams conduct long and short runs and try both tyre options, so it is difficult to draw too many conclusions just yet, especially as the track remained dirty as it was only the first day it had been used in anger. Just as there were this morning, there were numerous incidents as drivers explored and sometimes exceeded the limits. Massa spun in the tight Turn 9 left-hander that leads to the start of the back straight, while Schumacher Snr, Webber, Raikkonen, Montoya and Liuzzi all ran wide in the Turn 10 right-hander that immediately follows. Turn 8 claimed both Klien and Barrichello, the former twice running way off the track and on to the tarmac run-off area there.

Tiago Monteiro once again set the pace for Jordan with 1m 30.626s, but Robert Doornbos got his Minardi flying to hound him with 1m 30.628s and to pip team mate Christijan Albers who recorded 1m 30.730s. Nicolas Kiesa once again saw off Jordan team mate Narain Karthikeyan, with respective laps of 1m 30.88s and 1m 30.899s. At the back, Enrico Toccacelo continued his acclimatisation to Formula One in the third Minardi with a best lap of 1m 33.813s.

It’s still too early to predict final form, but McLaren have got off to a great start, BAR are currently matching Renault, Toyota seem strong, and Ferrari are where they were on Friday in Hungary.