European GP - Kimi first after Friday practice
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro ended the first day of practice for the European Grand Prix in first and third places with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa respectively. Summer still refuses to be a friend of Formula 1 this season and while the morning session was run in dry and cool conditions, heavy rain hit the track during the lunch break between the two ninety minute sessions, meaning the track was still slightly slippery for the start of the afternoon practice. But the more serious problem, which affected everyone was that the wind changed direction from the morning and made the cars harder to drive through the corners when gusts of wind affected the handling.
While the winner of the last two grands prix topped the final time sheet, it was championship leader Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren-Mercedes who was second ahead of the Scuderia's Brazilian driver. As we have seen so often this season it was a Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro - McLaren Mercedes lock-out for the top places, as reigning world champion, Fernando Alonso was fourth. Toyota completed the top six today, with Ralf Schumacher ahead of Jarno Trulli. One new name on the time sheets today, as Markus Winkelhock, son of the late F1 driver Manfred Winkelhock, took over the Spyker seat vacated by Christijan Albers. He was the slowest driver today.
"I am reasonably happy with today," Kimi said. "We have proved we are competitive in pure terms on this circuit and we will have to wait for tomorrow to understand exactly where we are compared to our main rivals. I think there is still room for improvement in terms of the handling of the car which is nevertheless good on both types of tyre we have here. The weather, especially the wind, made the second session a bit complicated but this problem was the same for everyone."
Luca Baldisserri also said, "The usual Friday programme was disrupted by the changing weather. We were expecting the second free practice session to be wet and so we had planned in the first session to compare the two types of tyre available to us this weekend. At this point the track conditions were definitely not at their best. Then, in the second session, when we ran entirely on dry tyres, the wind came into play, complicating the situation. In any case, we have shown we are competitive, although we are aware we still have to improve, both in terms of first lap performance and over a longer run, especially with the softer tyres. All in all, we have a good starting point from which to work forward over the rest of the weekend."