Wurz quickest in first session

27/05/2005
NEWS STORY

This weekend sees the return of BAR, however despite Jenson Button's insistence that a podium is possible, the odds are very much against the Brackley team.

First off, the new qualifying format - which consists of just one session - will see the two BARs go out first, and we know from past experience that this rarely results in a position at the front of the grid.

Secondly, the drivers will be using the very engines they last used at Imola, five weeks ago, and there is serious concern as to whether they'll last the weekend, with some sources claiming that there could even be corrosion to some internal components.

The easiest option would be for BAR to change the engines in both car, and accept the ten grid spot penalty, however the team is adamant that this is not being considered.

Elsewhere, Franck Montagny is driving the third Jordan in today's sessions, replacing Robert Doornbos, who insists that he was always aware that he would miss certain events.

Montagny is eager to point out that this is a temporary move and that he is not joining the Silverstone based team, and although it is well known that he is desperate to secure an F1 race seat, he isn't that desperate.

All of this, or course, beggars the question, what's in it for Renault? With Toyota supplying the powerplants for this season, in what is said to be a one-off deal, one has to wonder whether the French manufacturer could be looking to provide customers engines for Midland F1 in 2006. Assuming, of course, that the team hasn't been sold on by then.

After the excitement of last weekend's Monaco GP, we could well be in for another thriller this weekend, with thunderstorms predicted for Sunday. We know from past experience that the weather at the Nurburgring is totally unpredictable, and few of us have forgotten the 1999 event, when Johnny Herbert survived the mayhem to take Stewart's first, and only, Grand Prix win.

Despite a poor grid spot, and a coming together with David Coulthard, in Monaco, Michael Schumacher finished in the points and even added another fastest lap to his tally. The Schumacher/Ferrari revival has to begin at some point, and where better than here, where he has won on four previous occasions. And let's not forget, Jean Todt has already said that the revised qualifying format will suit Ferrari.

We're not into gambling at Pitpass, but if we were…

Ahead of today's first session, the air temperature is 26 degrees C, while the track temperature is 39 degrees.

At 11:00 precisely, the pitlane lights go green and Christijan Albers leads Klien, Wurz, Montagny, Villeneuve, Zonta and Friesacher out on to the track. The session is underway.

As the drivers return to the pits, having completed their installation lap, Massa, Karthikeyan, Monteiro and Coulthard appear.

Monaco winner, Kimi Raikkonen, comes out to 'test the waters', as Ricardo Zonta leaves his garage to (hopefully) post the first time of the weekend.

As the Brazilian posts 1:35.864, Klien, Wurz and Montagny, return to the track. Montoya leaves his garage, as does Sato. Wurz goes second (35.495), ahead of Klien (38.239) and Montagny (40.248). The Jordan will come as a mighty big surprise to the Frenchman, compared to the Renault R25 that he's used to.

Wurz improves with a 1:34.592, to go quickest, as Montagny also improves (39.479) but remains fourth. Elsewhere, Button and Liuzzi take to the track.

Montagny improves again (39.111), but remains over 4s off Wurz' pace, as Monteiro goes fifth, ahead of Friesacher and Albers.

As Zonta improves with a 1:34.883, so too does Montagny (38.072), though he is soon leapfrogged by Monteiro (37.294), who will be fully aware that his position could be under threat.

At half-time, only eight drivers have posted times - Wurz, Klien, Zonta, Monteiro, Montagny, Friesacher, Albers and Karthikeyan, however, Fisichella, Alonso, Ralf, Trulli and Rubens Barrichello are all on track.

The Ferrari driver continues around and becomes the first of the big guns to post a time, 1:34.081. Moments later, teammate Michael Schumacher leaves the Ferrari garage, which means that the two WilliamsF1 drivers are the only ones not to make an appearance thus far today.

As Barrichello improves to 1:33.272, Michael goes second with a 1:33.318, eclipsing Wurz by over a second. Next time around, the German goes quickest with a 1:32.796, however third-placed Wurz also improves (33.500).

Tonio Liuzzi leaves the Red Bull garage, the Italian keep to give a good performance this weekend following DNFs in Spain and Monaco.

Button is back on track, as are Trulli and Ralf.

Liuzzi goes seventh (37.912), but is soon demoted by Trulli (34.212), who goes fourth, and Monteiro (37.021). Ralf Schumacher can only manage seventh, with a 1:35.126.

With twelve minutes remaining, Zonta splits the Ferraris with a 1:32.859, as the 'big guns' wait resolutely in their garages, in what has to be one of the quietest sessions of the season thus far.

That said, Villeneuve goes eleventh (38.082), as Massa, Coulthard and Raikkonen leave their garages.

With nine minutes remaining, Heidfeld is the first of the WilliamsF1 drivers to make an appearance, his teammate, Webber, opting to remain in his garage.

A 1:31.732 sees Wurz go quickest, as Villeneuve improves to ninth. Moments later however, the Canadian is leapfrogged by Coulthard (37.653).

Heidfeld goes fifth (34.075), though he is almost instantly demoted by Raikkonen (33.015), who goes fourth.

Webber is finally on track - with five minutes remaining - as Heidfeld improves to fifth (33.142) and Raikkonen consolidates fourth (32.988).

Michael Schumacher and Barrichello both improve, however the German remains second quickest, while his teammate eases ahead of Raikkonen. Elsewhere, Mark Webber goes eighth.

Three minutes remaining, and no times from either of the BAR or Renault drivers.

Villeneuve improves to fourteenth (35.716) as Klien goes ninth (33.304), the Austrian due back in the Red Bull race seat in Montreal next month.

Wurz goes quickest in the first sector, as Karthikeyan edges ahead of Montagny.

Ralf improves to tenth (34.018), as Wurz raises the benchmark with a 1:31.670, putting him almost a full second ahead of Michael. In a last gasp effort, Juan Pablo Montoya grabs fourth with a 1:32.873, which puts him ahead of Barrichello and Raikkonen.

The session ends with Wurz ahead of Michael, who is in turn ahead of, Zonta, Montoya, Barrichello, Raikkonen, Heidfeld, Webber, Klien and Ralf.

Trulli finished eleventh quickest, ahead of Massa, Coulthard, Villeneuve, Liuzzi, Monteiro, Albers, Karthikeyan, Friesacher and Montagny.

No times from the BAR or Renault drivers.

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Published: 27/05/2005
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