German GP - Third practice
The timesheets would suggest that Michael Schumacher
is not particularly on the pace at Hockenheim, but the reality is that was it not for Sakon Yamamoto suffering a huge crash right at the end of the 60-minute practice session, the Ferrari driver
would have moved fastest. As it was, Christian Klien finds himself a surprise fastest in his Red Bull Ferrari, with a best lap of 1:15.628s.
Honda can be encouraged with a late run from both Jenson Button
and Rubens Barrichello
as they set the second and third fastest times respectively ahead of Felipe Massa in the leading Ferrari. It seems that Massa was the fastest of those who opted not to try new rubber at the end of the session, a move reflected by many of the expected front-runners.
David Coulthard was fifth fastest in the second RB2 while Giancarlo Fisichella
was next up in his Renault. Nick Heidfeld
was seventh fastest in his BMW Sauber ahead of Kimi Raikkonen
in the leading McLaren Mercedes. Michael Schumacher
was ninth fastest, but on a blisteringly fast lap right at the end of the session while Pedro de la Rosa rounded out the top ten in the second McLaren. Fernando Alonso
was 11th best in his R26 ahead of the Toro Rosso duo of Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed. Nico Rosberg was back on track today following his Friday shunt and managed the 14th fastest time. Indeed, the FW28 seems more competitive here this weekend and will be pushing for a top ten start come qualifying. Mark Webber was 16th in the second FW28.
Toyota have yet to show their pace this weekend, seemingly happy to conserve tyres for qualifying and the race. Ralf Schumacher
was 16th fastest while Jarno Trulli
was flat out of luck again as his TF106B ground to a halt before he had even set a lap time with some kind of mechanical drama.
Jacques Jacques Villeneuve
was 17th best in the second F1.06 ahead of Tiago Monteiro
in his MF1 Toyota. Over at Super Aguri Honda, Sakon Yamamoto was making up for time lost on Friday with a hydraulics issue when he went off heavily in the final turn.
Yamamoto was able to climb from the very badly damaged SA06, the front left having taken the majority of the impact. With so much damage to what is a new car for the team, it remains to be seen whether the car can be repaired, or if the SA05 will be brought back into use. Yamamoto was actually 19th, just ahead of team-mate Takuma Sato and the struggling Christijan Albers
While Klien tops the timesheets, Ferrari are very strong heading into qualifying while Toyota, Renault and McLaren have yet to show their true pace.
Earl ALEXANDER © CAPSIS International