Kovalainen fires warning to Hamilton

Heikki Kovalainen made clear his intentions to make things as difficult as possible for team-mate Lewis Hamilton at this weekend’s British Grand Prix after going quickest in Friday practice at Silverstone.

The Finn set the early pace in the afternoon warm up with a lap of 1m 20.353 around the 5.141km track. A string of blistering laps mid-way in the session saw him improve to a 1m 19.989 and consolidate the top spot, albeit around half a second slower than he went this morning.

Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso), Nico Rosberg (Williams), and, somewhat unexpectedly, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello (Honda), all squabbled for the positions behind the McLaren driver in the opening third of the session. But it Mark Webber who emerged as Kovalainen’s closest challenger after setting a searing pace in the dying minutes to go second quickest, half a second shy of P1.

David Coulthard, who announced his retirement on Friday, was less than a tenth of a second slower than his team-mate in fourth place, while Lewis Hamilton was the meat in a Red Bull sandwich after locking up in the Luffield complex on his final flying lap.

Ferrari maintained their low-key running with Felipe Massa – in a repaired F2008 after his crash this morning – lapped eighth quickest, three tenths quicker than team-mate Raikkonen, despite running wide on several of his hot laps.

Nico Rosberg gave Williams a reason to smile at their home track after pacing sixth fastest. Team-mate Kazuki Nakajima underlined the team’s pace going just a couple of tenths of a second slower – though not before bringing out the yellow flags when he ran wide at Farm and spun across the track into the wall, damaging the front of his FW30 in the process.

Honda who had very little running in the morning, were also right in the mix for most of the session, illustrating a clear step forward in performance for the Brackley-based outfit. Button gave his home fans something to cheer about after pacing seventh quickest, while Barrichello rounded out the top ten.

There were no stoppages in the afternoon session, unlike in the morning, despite an almost carbon-copy of Felipe Massa’s crash. Jarno Trulli was pitched into the tyre barriers at Stowe after his rear wing appeared to drop off his TF108 just before the braking zone.

Trulli’s team-mate Timo Glock brought out the yellow flags early on when he crawled to a halt on the back straight with what appeared to be a gear selection problem.

Pos  Driver        Team                     Time              Laps
 1.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:19.989            35
 2.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:20.520  + 0.531   32
 3.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:20.543  + 0.554   31
 4.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:20.589  + 0.600   36
 5.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota     (B)  1:20.748  + 0.759   43
 6.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:20.805  + 0.816   43
 7.  Button        Honda               (B)  1:20.929  + 0.940   39
 8.  Massa         Ferrari             (B)  1:20.943  + 0.954   18
 9.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota     (B)  1:20.985  + 0.996   18
10.  Barrichello   Honda               (B)  1:21.002  + 1.013   34
11.  Kubica        BMW Sauber          (B)  1:21.023  + 1.034   33
12.  Raikkonen     Ferrari             (B)  1:21.275  + 1.286   31
13.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber          (B)  1:21.453  + 1.464   36
14.  Glock         Toyota              (B)  1:21.472  + 1.483   18
15.  Alonso        Renault             (B)  1:21.511  + 1.522   27
16.  Fisichella    Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:21.520  + 1.531   42
17.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:21.634  + 1.645   39
18.  Piquet        Renault             (B)  1:21.642  + 1.653   45
19.  Sutil         Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:21.756  + 1.767   30
20.  Trulli        Toyota              (B)  1:22.196  + 2.207   23