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Vettel splits McLarens in final practice 16 Jun 2007

Sebastian Vettel (GER) BMW Sauber F1.07.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, United States Grand Prix, Practice Day, Indianapolis, USA, Friday, 15 June 2007

Sebastian Vettel nearly upstaged everybody here at Indianapolis on Saturday morning, BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica stand-in taking fastest time away from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton in the final part of the hour-long session.

The Englishman’s 1m 12.378s lap had itself deposed team mate Fernando Alonso’s 1m 12.559s, but then Vettel did 1m 12.321s to go to the top of the timing screens. Right at the end, however, Alonso’s final run yielded 1m 12.150s.

Hamilton’s final effort was aborted when it became clear that it was not going to generate any improvement, leaving him third overall.

Another late improver was Heikki Kovalainen who took his Renault to 1m 12.574s for fourth, ahead of Nick Heidfeld who was clearly having trouble with grip in his BMW Sauber, which he lapped in 1m 12.646s for fifth fastest.

The Ferraris were only sixth and seventh. Kimi Raikkonen posted 1m 12.692s, Felipe Massa 1m 12.709s, but a faster lap from the Brazilian was ruined when he ran wide exiting the slippery Turn 11.

Right on Massa’s heels was Giancarlo Fisichella who recorded 1m 12.710s for Renault, then came David Coulthard (1m 12.940s for Red Bull), Nico Rosberg (1m 13.031s for Williams), Toyota duo Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher (1m 13.057s and 1m 13.061s) and Super Aguri’s Anthony Davidson (1m 13.069s).

The times behind this group were as tight as they were on Friday afternoon, with Red Bull’s Mark Webber 14th on 1m 13.289s chased by Honda’s Jenson Button (1m 13.318s), Toro Rosso’s Tonio Liuzzi (1m 13.415s), Takuma Sato in the Super Aguri (1m 13.476s), Rubens Barrichello in the second Honda (1m 13.573s) and Williams’ Alex Wurz (1m 13.626s).

The final three failed to get into the 1m 13s bracket. Spyker’s Adrian Sutil was 20th on 1m 14.142s following an earlier off in Turn Eight, Scott Speed did 1m 14.316s in his Toro Rosso, and Christijan Albers was last in his Spyker with 1m 14.402s.

Besides Sutil and Massa, Wurz also slid off the road in Turn Two.

Given how close some people were to the McLarens, it is safe to assume that they and the Ferrari probably ran with more fuel this morning. All the signs are that they will be fighting for the first two rows in qualifying this afternoon, with BMW Sauber most likely to be leading the pursuit.