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Mixed fortunes for McLaren in Saturday practice

NEWS STORY
30/06/2007

Ahead of today's free practice session, the air temperature is 21 degrees C, while the track temperature is 32 degrees. It is bright and sunny, however, it is predicted that there will be rain today, possibly during this session, possibly during qualifying. Maybe both. Forecasters are still predicting rain for tomorrow's race.

Having suffered back pains yesterday, which prevented him running in the second half of the second session, Nick Heidfeld has had treatment overnight, and has now been given the all-clear to contest the remainder of the weekend.

With Ferrari dominating both sessions yesterday it will be interesting to see if the Maranello outfit can continue its impressive form today... and of course, tomorrow.

The lights go green and first out is Sato, followed by Albers, Sutil, Trulli, Liuzzi, Kubica and Davidson. No repeats of yesterday's problems when both Super Aguri drivers found themselves caught out by the narrowness of the Magny-Cours pitlane.

As ever, the drivers complete the installation lap then head back to the pits.

While Lewis Hamilton prepares to go out, Felipe Massa is in earnest conversation with one of his crew members, the Brazilian showing no sign of heading off to work.

Seven minutes into the session, Albers and Sutil are the first drivers to go out for a second run. At present the Dutch team is simply going through the motions, anticipating the arrival of the new car which should make its debut at Istanbul in late August.

Sutil sets the benchmark (18.505), but both Super Aguris are now on track and it isn't long before Sato has gone quickest, the Japanese driver posting 17.918. Anthony Davidson goes second with a 18.328.

Sato improves to 17.307 as Trulli, Liuzzi, Schumacher and Kovalainen leave the pits.

It isn't long before Trulli has set a new benchmark, the Italian crossing the line at 16.562. Meanwhile, Kovalainen gets it all wrong and goes off cross-country, as does Davidson just a few moments later.

As Schumacher goes second (16.801), all eyes are on Liuzzi who is pushing hard in the Toro Rosso. The Italian edges out Nick Heidfeld to take fifth.

Kubica goes third, ahead of Kovalainen, but Rosberg is on a very hot lap, having gone quickest in the first sector. At the line the German posts 16.685, which is only good enough for fifth, as Kovalainen goes second (16.501).

After twenty minutes, everyone has been out except the Ferrari duo. That said, as Kovalainen goes quickest (16.241), Raikkonen heads down the pitlane.

Kovalainen improves (16.216), but Raikkonen has already gone quickest in the first sector. The Ferrari star crosses the line at 15.874, thereby bumping his fellow Finn down to second. Luca Badoer, who is watching from the Ferrari garage, looks suitably impressed.

Massa heads down the pitlane, as Wurz goes fifth, ahead of Liuzzi, Rosberg, Schumacher and Coulthard.

As Fisichella takes full advantage of the tarmac run-offs, Raikkonen improves to 15.640. However, Massa is already quickest in the first sector. He's pushing hard, but the lap is aborted when the red flags come out.

It appears that some of the green run-off surface on the main straight has become loose and lifted away. Which present a safety problem. Herbie Blash and Charlie Whiting are on the scene within moments.

The area in question is on the outside at beginning of the main straight. Thing is, we can't really see a way of fixing it, as the cars are simply going to rip it up again as the run wide.

A small crowd of officials are attempting to stamp the fabric back into place, much as you would with carpet tiles. So much for F1 technology.

A replay shows that it was Anthony Davidson who ran wide and did the initial damage.

With the aid of a Stanley Knife some of the loose 'carpet' is cut away and the session continues.

When the lights go green Davidson is one of the first back on track, followed by Massa… whose hot lap was so rudely interrupted.

Not one to let a bit of carpet get in his way, Massa goes quickest, posting a 15.437. This is the signal for Hamilton to get to work.

As the Englishman begins his first flying lap, Massa improves with a 15.422. Kovalainen maintains third ahead of Kubica, Trulli and Schumacher.

Having gone quickest in the second sector, Hamilton crosses the line at 15.625 to go second, just 0.203s down on the Ferrari.

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