Rosberg quickest as both Toro Rosso's crash out


Ahead of today's free practice session, the air temperature is 24 degrees C, while the track temperature is 30 degrees. Not only is it warmer than yesterday, we even have some sunshine.

The lights go green, and the Force Indias lead the way, followed by Trulli, Vettel, Rosberg, Kubica, Bourdais….

Yesterday, it was somewhat surprising to see BMW abandon its usual Friday and actually go for some fast lap times.

One by one they go out, however, whereas we normally see the teams get straight down to work on Saturday, today they are following the programme we usually see in the first free practice session on Friday, a quick installation lap then back to the pits.

Vettel complains that there is oil on the track, particularly at Turns 8 and 10, presuming it to have been dumped by competitors in one of the support events.

Seven minutes into the session, with no times on the board, only the Ferraris have yet to appear. Meanwhile, it is revealed that it is not oil on the track at Turns 8 and 10, but "residue" following repairs to the track overnight.

Yesterday, fans were deprived of track action for much of the first session thanks to the weather, today the excuse is "track repairs". We are almost fifteen minutes into the session before Heidfeld breaks the deadlock and heads down the pitlane, followed by the Force India and Bourdais.

Now just to remind you, the options this weekend are soft and supersoft, which we will hereafter refer to as hard and soft.

Heidfeld posts the first time of the day, the BMW driver crossing the line at 19.344. No soon has Sutil gone second, than he is eclipsed by Fisichella and Raikkonen.

Heidfeld improves to 18.512, as Button goes second and Sutil third. It's going to be one of those weekends, isn't it?

Having gone quickest in all three sectors, Raikkonen takes the top spot with a 18.174, as Sutil gets up close and very personal with the Wall of Champions.

Twenty minutes into the session, all but Webber are on track, but still only eleven names on the timesheets.

Kubica goes second (17.837) as Raikkonen improves with a 17.629, but all eyes are on 2007 winner, and Friday pace-setter, Lewis Hamilton.

The Englishman goes fifth (17.826) as Kubica takes the top spot with a 17.589. That said, moments later Rosberg posts 17.297 to go quickest.

Piquet goes quickest in the middle sector - the beginning of the revival - as Raikkonen re-takes the top spot with a 16.785. The Brazilian slots into second with a 17.060.

Replay shows Hamilton getting out of shape at the rear, before heading off over the grass at Turn 9.

Rosberg posts 16.555 to go quickest, as Massa takes third place with a 17.009. Piquet remains fourth, ahead of Nakajima, Hamilton, Barrichello and Glock.

Webber improves to sixth, them immediately goes one better, posting 17.334 to move up to fifth.

Following his teammate's example, Fisichella tempts fate as he slides across the track, his rear end coming perilously close to the unforgiving Wall of Champions.

With twenty-two minutes remaining, Kovalainen, currently seventh, is on track. The Finn moves up to third with a 16.952. Elsewhere, Kubica is pushing hard as he seeks to improve on sixth.

Piquet performs a slick 360 at Turn 8, the Brazilian still fifth quickest. That said, he is bumped down by Hamilton, who posts 17.037. Next time around, the Englishman improves to third (16.725).

With fifteen minutes remaining, we should soon start to see the drivers running on the softs.

A big crash for Vettel, which immediately brings out the red flag. He loses it at Turn 8, and the car slides across the track at Turn 9 into the wall, badly damaging the right-hand side of the car. The German is out of the car, and clearly OK, but there is a lot of debris on the track. The front wheel remains tethered to the car, however, the rear has been ripped off.

Asked if he's OK, Vettel tells his crew; "I'm fine, I went over the kerbs and lost it, sadly, there is no run off!" A characteristic masterpiece of understatement from the youngster.

As we wait for the action to resume, replays show an earlier incident when a squirrel attempted to cross the track in front of Barrichello then had second thoughts. Moments later, the naughty rodent attempts to cross in front of Massa, and once again has second thoughts. Clearly he doesn't trust Brazilian drivers.

With six minutes remaining, the lights go green and the final assault gets underway. As expected, most drivers are running on the soft option. A lot depends on what happens in the next couple of minutes, Vettel's accident costing everyone dear. There will only be time for two flying laps… assuming there are no further incidents.

At which point, the other Toro Rosso driver crashes, this time at Turns 6 and 7. The replay shows Bourdais hitting the wall and badly damaging the right rear of the car. The session isn't red flagged again, but the yellow flags are waving, thereby compromising everyone's lap times.

As Sutil heads off into the gravel, the chequered flag comes out, with no further improvements and nobody really getting to try their soft tyres.

Meanwhile, there's further drama at Piquet loses it over the kerbs at Turn 12. His car spins around 180 but somehow he only gently touches the Wall of Champions, incurring no obvious damage.

The session, now well and truly over, sees Rosberg topping the timesheets, ahead of Raikkonen, Hamilton, Massa, Nakajima, Trulli, Kovalainen, Piquet, Webber and Vettel.

If nothing else, the boys at Toro Rosso will be kept busy for the next couple of hours.

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Published: 07/06/2008
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