First blood to Ferrari as problems hamper Hamilton


Ahead of today's first free practice session the air temperature is 17 degrees C, while the track temperature is 27 degrees. It is bright and sunny, though somewhat cool.

The moment the lights go green there's a mad scramble as the drivers seek to go out and complete the obligatory installation lap. Takuma Sato, in his enthusiasm to leave his garage, blocks the pitlane, causing a traffic jam.

Davidson, Kubica, Sutil, Trulli, Liuzzi, Schumacher, Speed and Heidfeld get to work, followed by Sato.

As Kovalainen heads down the pitlane there's blue smoke pouring from the back of his car… however, by the time he hits the track his car seems to be running as normal.

Several teams are claiming to have made significant steps forward since Indianapolis… it will be interesting to see if this is true.

Coulthard appears to have a problem of some sort, unfortunately the radio link is poor and it is impossible to make out what he is saying. The reaction from the team is not so difficult to decipher… "box, box," they tell him.

Fisichella is on track, and he too appears to have smoke coming from the back of his car.

Twelve minutes into the session, Anthony Davidson is the first driver to post a time, the Englishman crossing the line at 1:20.217.

Moments later, Christijan Albers, the subject of much speculation at present as to his F1 future, heads down the pitlane. The Dutchman is under intense pressure to raise his game.

Davidson improves to 19.150, but moments later is eclipsed by his teammate whop posts 18.533.

On his first flying lap Rubens Barrichello goes fourth, the Honda driver posting 19.780. Elsewhere, Hamilton makes a practice start.

Next time around Barrichello improves with a 18.630, which puts him second to Super Aguri's Takuma Sato. Scott speed is third, ahead of Liuzzi, Davidson and Rosberg.

An 18.207 sees Barrichello go quickest. However, all eyes are on Hamilton who has pulled to the side of the track, his session over before it had even begun. He waves to the fans in the stands.

Wurz has a decidedly dodgy moment at Estoril, the car wanting to break away but somehow he keeps it under control… even though there's a short trip across the grass.

As Hamilton watches the action from behind the tyre barriers, the replay shows that his car suddenly lost all power. That's one of the first technical failures we've seen this year… which will surely give the Woking outfit's rivals a little hope.

Jarno Trulli goes quickest, the Italian crossing the line at 17.167. However, all eyes are on Kimi Raikkonen who goes quickest in the first sector. The Finn posts 17.003, tsaking the top spot by 0.164. However, moments later, as Heidfeld begins his first flying lap, Jarno Trulli goes quickest with a 16.854.

Raikkonen isn't done yet, the Finn posts 16.237 to go quickest, as Heidfeld goes third and Schumacher fourth.

As Felipe Massa posts 17.293 to go fourth, Jenson Button takes sixth with a 17.835. The Brazilian improves to second, but attention is on Fisichella, who has a short detour across the French countryside.

On the pit wall, Ron Dennis looks pensive as Fernando Alonso heads down the pitlane. On his first flying lap the Spaniard is 0.700 off the pace… but that is still good enough for fourth.

Massa takes the top spot with a 16.088. The Ferraris are looking strong thus far, but there is still a long, long way to go before the flag drops on Sunday afternoon.

At 'half-time', it's: Massa, Raikkonen, Trulli, Alonso, Schumacher, Heidfeld, Button, Kovalainen, Davidson and Webber.

In the McLaren garage the mechanics work on Lewis Hamilton's car, while the counterparts at Renault are working on the front of Kovalainen's R27. Elsewhere, Fisichella goes seventh, albeit 1.3s off Massa's benchmark time.

There is clearly a problem with Kubica's car, the Pole having only completed an installation lap. Along with Sutil and Hamilton, the BMW has yet to post a time.

Raikkonen goes quickest in sectors two and three, crossing the line at 15.650 to take the top spot back from his teammate. After last week's call from Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, perhaps we are finally going to see the real Kimi Raikkonen this weekend.

With thirty-five minutes remaining, the Red Bulls are worryingly off the pace, Webber, the quicker of the two, 2.3s off the pace.

Lewis Hamilton is back on track, the Englishman appearing to check to see if his previous problem has been resolved. On his installation lap he continually slows down before speeding up again. That said, he's travelling very, very slowly… before heading back into the pits.

McLaren is one of several teams that gives limited access to its radio transmissions. Therefore, we'll have to wait before we discover the source of Lewis' problems.

Kubica is finally back on track. The Pole is advised that there will be no rain until after 3pm. The Pole posts 18.519, which puts him nineteenth of the twenty drivers that have posted times.

Hamilton is back on track and finally looking as though his car is running trouble-free. The World Championship leader posts 16.801 to go fifth, thereby bumping Heidfeld down to sixth.

As Massa goes quickest in the first sector, Kubica improves to eighth. The Brazilian, having made a minor mistake in sector two, dives into the pits and drives straight through, giving him the opportunity to make a practice start at the end of the pitlane.

Both Toyotas are in the top eight, indicating an improvement for the Japanese team. It should not be forgotten that the Cologne based outfit topped the timesheets for two days at Silverstone.

Hamilton is back on track, as is teammate Alonso. Both McLaren driver are over half-a-second off Raikkonen's best time. Elsewhere, Scott Speed goes ninth (17.211).

Albers goes off, and for a brief moment - due to the obscure camera angle - it looks as though he's crashed. Moments later however, he emerges from the gravel strap, and continues his lap.

Raikkonen goes quickest in the second sector, but fails to maintain the pace in the third, and consequently fails to improve. Elsewhere, Hamilton locks up as he enters the pitlane.

With under fifteen minutes remaining, Ferrari, McLaren, BMW and Toyota appear to have the edge. That said, Button is 'up there' also… though teammate Rubens Barrichello is currently down in twentieth.

As Raikkonen raises the benchmark with a 15.382, Massa goes quickest in the second sector. Meanwhile, the McLarens are split by Alex Wurz, who goes fourth with 16.407.

Hamilton reclaims fourth position only to be bumped back down to fifth by the second Williams driver, Nico Rosberg, who posts 16.214.

Massa improves but fails to beat his Finnish teammate. Meanwhile, Nick Heidfeld goes sixth.

Better late than never… David Coulthard posts 16.268 to go fifth, thereby edging out Hamilton. Meanwhile, Kubica and Fisichella both look set to improve.

Raikkonen goes quickest in the second sector and looks set to improve, but there is the little matter of Fernando Alonso, who is directly ahead of him on track. Such is his eagerness to stay ahead of the Finn, the Spaniard gets tangled up with Webber, who is clearly none too happy.

The session ends with Raikkonen quickest, ahead of Massa, Alonso, Rosberg, Coulthard, Hamilton, Heidfeld, Wurz, Kubica and Trulli.

To check out our Magny-Cours practice gallery, click here

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 29/06/2007
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