Ferrari laid down the gauntlet to rivals McLaren in Turkey practice with Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen lapping quickest in the morning and afternoon sessions despite tricky track conditions that saw several drivers fly off the track.
Felipe Massa, who is hunting down his third successive victory in Istanbul, went quickest in the morning warm up with a time of 1m 27.323 while team-mate Raikkonen was forced to sit out most of session due to a gearbox problem.
“Overall, this was a positive day,â€ reflected Massa. “The track is very fast, even if it s still a bit dirty, which meant it was quite easy to make mistakes. “I feel comfortable on this track and I think I can be very competitive tomorrow and on Sunday in the race.”
Heikki Kovalainen, unfazed by his horrific accident in Barcelona, lapped second quickest just over a tenth of a second slower than the Brazilian with McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton a further three-tenths down the line.
“It was nice to get back in the car again and everything was fine,â€ enthused the Finn. “I was on the pace immediately and was able to set some consistent lap times.â€
“At the end of the first session I went out on the option tyre but the brake temperature was not quite right, so I was not able to go flat out in that run.â€
Late track cleaning left several damp patches scattered around the Herman-Tilke designed circuit and over forty minutes had elapsed before anyone ventured out onto the track.
Low track temperatures added to the problem with several drivers losing control and spinning off including Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa. Things got worse in the afternoon session when a shower in the interval left the track genuinely wet.
The conditions did little to hamper Ferrari s Kimi Raikkonen though. The Ferrari driver flew round the drying track en-route to the top spot with a time of 1m 27.543 just slower than Massa s quickest time in the morning.
“Not the best of Fridays,” reflected Raikkonen dwelling on his morning woes. “This morning, I only managed one timed lap before a gearbox problem meant I could not go out for the rest of the session.”
“In the afternoon, I struggled a bit to find the right settings on the car. One of the main problems today was getting the tyres up to the correct temperature, but I think that tomorrow it will be a different situation.”
It was Lewis Hamilton that put the Finn under the most pressure this time, the British ace lapping within a few hundredths of a second on soft tyres. A mistake at the notorious tipple apexer prevented the Briton eclipsing Raikkonen s time – though the situation was slightly misleading given that the Finn s lap had been done on harder compound tyres.
“In my last run of the day I put on a new set of tyres but had a small moment which cost me some time,â€ explained the 23-year-old. “Overall I am pleased with our initial pace and consistency.â€
David Coulthard was an impressive third quickest just over a tenth of a second slower than third place man Felipe Massa and two tenths faster than Heikki Kovalainen.
Spins and off-track excursions were again widespread in the second session. Red Bull Racing s Mark Webber brought the red flags out half an hour into the session when he pitched his RB4 off at Turn 6. The Australian ran wide and lost control on the wet Astroturf which spearheaded the out-of-control Red Bull back across the track and into the opposite barrier.
The RBR ace later held up his hands for the accident and took full responsibility: “Going off the track at Turn 6 was 100 percent my fault. I didn t respect the green Astroturf that sits on the outside of the track enough. I was a bit too loaded up on the outside of the track, the Astroturf was a bit damp, and I went off, it was my fault. I apologise to the guys and we ll bounce back from this tomorrow.â€
Toyota s Timo Glock and Scuderia Toro Rosso s Sebastien Bourdais also lost control on the slippery track, the out-of-luck drivers running across the kerbing at Turns 4 and 9 respectively.
It was a quiet day for BMW Sauber, the paddock waiting as usual for the Hinwil and Munich based outfit to unleash itself on Saturday. Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld wound up sixth and tenth fastest in the second session, Heidfeld struggling to get his tyres up to temperature and Kubica recovering from a technical problem in the morning session.
Fernando Alonso underlined Renault s step forward in performance, the Spaniard lapping fourth quickest in morning warm-up but dropping to ninth in the afternoon.
Williams and Honda once again found themselves entrenched in the mid-field throughout most of the day, Nakajima twice out-pacing Nico Rosberg.
Toro Rosso and Force India backed up the rear of the timing sheet through most of the day with Super Aguri a notable absentee.
Turkish GP free practice session two times 1. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1m27.543s 2. HAMILTON McLaren 1m27.579s 3. MASSA Ferrari 1m27.682s 4. COULTHARD Red Bull 1m27.763s 5. KOVALAINEN McLaren 1m27.954s 6. KUBICA BMW 1m28.431s 7. TRULLI Toyota 1m28.619s 8. NAKAJIMA Williams 1m28.664s 9. ALONSO Renault 1m28.681s 10. HEIDFELD BMW 1m28.817s 11. BUTTON Honda 1m28.826s 12. GLOCK Toyota 1m28.849s 13. ROSBERG Williams 1m28.907s 14. FISICHELLA Force India 1m29.008s 15. BARRICHELLO Honda 1m29.024s 16. PIQUET Renault 1m29.212s 17. VETTEL Toro Rosso 1m29.462s 18. BOURDAIS Toro Rosso 1m29.630s 19. WEBBER Red Bull 1m29.633s 20. SUTIL Force India 1m30.832s Turkish GP free practice session one times 1. MASSA Ferrari 1m27.323s 2. KOVALAINEN McLaren 1m27.456s 3. HAMILTON McLaren 1m27.752s 4. ALONSO Renault 1m28.284s 5. BUTTON Honda 1m28.919s 6. NAKAJIMA Williams 1m29.002s 7. HEIDFELD BMW 1m29.024s 8. BARRICHELLO Honda 1m29.068s 9. PIQUET Renault 1m29.082s 10. GLOCK Toyota 1m29.103s 11. TRULLI Toyota 1m29.329s 12. KUBICA BMW 1m29.330s 13. ROSBERG Williams 1m29.367s 14. SUTIL Force India 1m29.756s 15. FISICHELLA Force India 1m29.811s 16. WEBBER Red Bull 1m30.088s 17. COULTHARD Red Bull 1m30.340s 18. BOURDAIS Toro Rosso 1m30.388s 19. VETTEL Toro Rosso 1m30.426s 20. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1m30.732s