The first round of free practice went in favour of local hero and rookie Lewis Hamilton, setting a time 0.111s faster than that of second placed driver Kimi Raikkonen. Playing to his fans around the Northamptonshire circuit, Hamilton struggled with the wind as he tussled with the Ferrari’s throughout the 90 minute session. Clearly on the limit, Lewis did have a couple of offs at Abbey and Priory. His time though, was enough to place him at the top of the timing sheets in the morning.
Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso followed up next, Massa beating Alonso to third by quite a large margin of 0.4s, although that does include a small run-off at Priory for the Spaniard. Nico Rosberg managed to outpace both the BMWs to finish in fifth, and a resurgent Robert Kubica managed to haul his German car ahead of his team mate Nick Heidfeld to end his morning in sixth.
Renault appeared to struggle, only managing thirteenth and fourteenth for Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella respectively, while the Honda’s alternated with the Super Aguri’s, Rubens Barrichello (10th), Anthony Davidson (12th), Jenson Button (15th) and Takuma Sato (16th).
Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Spyker rounded off the table.
Free Practice One Times
|12.||Anthony Davidson||Super Aguri||1m23.037s|
|16.||Takuma Sato||Super Aguri||1m23.548s|
|17.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1m23.564s|
|18.||David Coulthard||Red Bull Racing||1m23.618s|
|19.||Scott Speed||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m23.854s|
|21.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m24.154s|
The second session of the day saw Jenson Button sit out due to an aggravated back injury that he sustained at the US Grand Prix. Test driver Christian Klien sat in for Button and managed to get within 0.3s of his experienced team mate Rubens Barrichello. However, the pair sat precariously down in 17th and 18th place.
The second session was also briefly interrupted by rain, but was soon cleared up by the end of the day, with lap times falling below those set in the morning.
It was Kimi Raikkonen who challenged the McLaren’s the most after the lunch break, finishing the session on top and a massive 0.5s faster than his team mate. However, it is likely that Ferrari ran different fuel levels in each car to assess the strategy for qualifying and the race.
Unfortunately for McLaren, Lewis Hamilton had to settle for fourth, having been beaten not just by the Ferrari’s, but also by Ralf Schumacher in his Toyota. Ralf managed to complete a 1m21.381s lap, identical to that of Lewis to within a thousandth of a second, but as the German driver got there first, he heads Lewis in the timing sheet.
Fernando Alonso languishes down in sixth, being beaten himself by the other Toyota of Jarno Trulli. The Italian went 0.1s slower than Hamilton, and about 0.15s faster than the chasing Spaniard and reigning World Champion. Williams completed the top eight, followed by an improved Webber for Red Bull in ninth and an improved Anthony Davidson in tenth, much to the delight of the British fans.
Renault improved to eleventh and twelfth, but again Kovalainen managed to beat his vastly more experienced partner Giancarlo Fisichella. BMW fell from grace, sandwiching the other Red Bull of recently re-signed David Coulthard in fourteenth. Takuma Sato finished his day in sixteenth, and then it was the Honda pair, the Toro Rosso pair and finally the Spyker pair.
Free Practice Two Times
|9.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1m22.137s|
|10.||Anthony Davidson||Super Aguri||1m22.143s|
|14.||David Coulthard||Red Bull Racing||1m22.428s|
|16.||Takuma Sato||Super Aguri||1m22.487s|
|19.||Scott Speed||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m22.840s|
|20.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m23.105s|