Raikkonen sets the standard in Istanbul 25 Aug 2006
For once, it wasnt the third drivers who took top honours in Fridays opening practice for the Turkish Grand Prix. Admittedly they did dominate for much of the hour, until the big guns made a late - and unexpectedly forceful - showing.
Kimi Raikkonen set the pace with a last-minute effort of 1m 28.315s, nearly half a second faster than Michael Schumacher's Ferrari (1m 28.777s). Schumacher tried some interesting new rear wheel covers, designed to improve the air flow around the rear tyres.
Jenson Button was third fastest in his Honda, just hundredths slower than Schumacher, on 1m 28.785s. The three frontrunners all did only a handful of laps but were still able to go faster than the test drivers who were led by Alexander Wurz's Williams with a best of 1m 28.959s. Next up was Anthony Davidson's Honda with a lap of 1m 29.192s, although the Englishman came to a smoky halt out on the track in the latter part of the session.
McLarens Pedro de la Rosa was sixth fastest (1m 29.376s) ahead of the BMW Saubers of Nick Heidfeld (1m 29.780s) and newcomer Sebastian Vettel (1m 29.964). The 19-year-old is the youngest man ever to drive a Formula One car on a Grand Prix weekend, beating the previous record set by New Zealander Mike Thackwell back in 1980.
Next up was Robert Doornbos, who recorded a 1m 30.391 in his Red Bull ahead of Toro Rossos Neel Jani, who lapped at 1m 30.576. Rubens Barrichello was 11th quickest with a 1m 30.838 for Honda, followed by Midlands Giorgio Mondini with a 1m 30.846 and Scott Speed of Toro Rosso, with a 1m 31.416. Christijan Albers and his Midland team mate Tiago Monteiro were next with laps of 1m 31.475 and 1m 31.566 respectively, ahead of Super Aguris test driver Franck Montagny (1m 31.814s), Ferrari's Felipe Massa (1m 31.904), Sakon Yamamoto's Super Aguri (1m 32.212) and Tonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso (1m 32.497).
The only incident of note was a spin for Doornbos at Turn 9. With this years V8 engines producing less power than last seasons V10s, the notorious multi-apex Turn 8 seemed to present far fewer problems than before.
Ralf Schumacher, Jarno Trulli, Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella, Takuma Sato, Robert Kubica, Christian Klien and David Coulthard did only one-lap shakedown runs and the Williams of Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg were not seen at all.