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Saturday practice - Hamilton stays on top 25 Aug 2007

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren with dad Anthony Hamilton (GBR) in the background.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 24 August 2007 Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Saturday, 25 August 2007 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Saturday, 25 August 2007

Lewis Hamilton continued to set the pace in €stanbul Park on Saturday morning. €n perfect conditions the 22 year-old Englishman took his McLaren MP4-22 round in 1m 27.325s, the fastest time so far this weekend. That was just sufficient to take the honour away from Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who had earlier lapped his F2007 in 1m 27.366s. Right behind them came Kimi Raikkonen on 1m 27.506s and Fernando Alonso on 1m 27.743s.

The session began badly for Hamilton when his car stopped in the pit-lane exit and had to be wheeled back by marshals. After a couple of slow exploratory laps thereafter, he finally got going halfway through and quickly went fastest.

All of these quick laps were again set on Bridgestone’s harder tyre, the prime choice here. Neither Ferrari driver improved when they tried the medium option at the end (though Raikkonen did set the fastest first sector time on them), while Hamilton’s efforts on that rubber ended with a spin in Turn Seven.

The track remained slippery this morning, and Raikkonen, Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel, Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen, BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica, Super Aguri’s Takuma Sato and Spyker’s Adrian Sutil all had off-course moments. Sato later spun in Turn Three (where team mate Anthony Davidson came to grief on Friday) and beached his SA07 backwards in the gravel.

Once again Nico Rosberg was flying for Williams, his 1m 28.056s lap on the medium tyres leaving him fifth ahead of the BMW Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica (1m 28.184s and 1m 28.224s respectively). Right on their tails was Giancarlo Fisichella with 1m 28.261s for Renault, while Mark Webber popped his Red Bull ahead of Kovalainen in the second R27 as they rounded out the top 10 with respective laps of 1m 28.337s and 1m 28.364s.

Demonstrating just how close things are these days in the midfield, they were followed by Alex Wurz in the second Williams (1m 28.413s), Red Bull’s David Coulthard (1m 28.448s), Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli in the Toyotas (1m 28.481s and 1m 28.520s), Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello in the Hondas (1m 28.548s and 1m 28.715s), Davidson on 1m 28.755s and Toro Rosso’s Tonio Liuzzi (1m 28.937s).

Vettel led the final group on 1m 29.408s ahead of Sato (1m 29.436s), and Adrian Sutil again won the inter-Spyker battle with 1m 30.044s against Sakon Yamamoto’s 1m 30.712s.

All the indications are that qualifying will see a dramatic fight for pole between McLaren and Ferrari, with BMW Sauber, Williams and Renault likely to head the ‘best of the rest’ group.