McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen was a surprise at the head of the timesheets following today’s practice sessions in Istanbul.
Both of the team’s drivers professed themselves pleased with the pace of the car on a track that was predicted to play to the very worst of the MP4-24’s weaknesses.
In a tight second session, with everyone but the Toro Rossos and Force Indias separated by less than a second, Kovalainen made an early strike for the top slot and then stuck there, knocking down team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the process.
In second place behind the Finn was Renault’s Fernando Alonso, despite gloomy predictions from his team boss Flavio Briatore, who expressed the view that the championship was in Ross Brawn’s and a certain bollard’s collective pocket.
Third was Robert Kubica, in some rare good news for BMW, and fourth was Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima. Sebastian Vettel managed to go fifth-fastest despite an engine failure that brought him and Kate’s Dirty Sister up short after just 18 laps.
Toyta’s Jarno Trulli was sixth, first session leader Nico Rosberg was seventh for Williams and Rubens Barrichello made the first appearance for Brawn GP in eighth. Team-mate and championship leader Jenson Button was 12th – later speaking of a difficult weekend ahead and work to do.
Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Renault’s Nelson Piquet completed the top ten. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was in 11th, ahead of both Raikkonen and Hamilton, who were 13th and 15th respectively.
In the morning session Rosberg put in a by now completely unsurprising fastest lap during the dying moments of a session that took a long time to get going thanks to dust on the track.
He did it by pulling a last-minute surprise on Hamilton, who had occupied the top slot for much of the session despite an off at the first corner that was a popular feature for several drivers.
Jarno Trulli generated some hope for Toyota when he went fastest at the halfway stage, but he was rapidly deposed by Rosberg’s team-mate Nakajima.
Massa was also apparently strong challenger but ended the session in fifth place behind Vettel having had an encounter of his own with the kerbs which led to the session being temporarily halted while the damage was repaired.
Raikkonen, Alonso, Barrichello and Kovalainen completed the top ten with Button a subdued 11th.
Session two times:
- Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren: 1:28.841 (37 laps)
- Fernando Alonso, Renault: 1:28.847 (35 laps)
- Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber: 1:29.056 (35 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 1:29.091 (37 laps)
- Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull: 1:29.202 (4 laps)
- Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 1:29.207 (41 laps)
- Nico Rosberg, Williams: 1:29.257 (40 laps)
- Rubens Barrichello, Brawn: 1:29.305 (35)
- Mark Webber, Red Bull: 1:29.383 (39 laps)
- Nelson A Piquet, Renault: 1:29.401 (38 laps)
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari: 1:29.416 (38 laps)
- Jenson Button, Brawn: 1:29.430 (33 laps)
- Lewis Hamilton, McLaren: 1:29.435 (31 laps)
- Timo Glock, Toyota: 1:29.518 (40 laps)
- Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: 1:29.520 (33 laps)
- Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber: 1:29.550 (40 laps)
- Adrian Sutil, Force India: 1:30.081 (33 laps)
- Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India: 1:30.091 (38 laps)
- Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso: 1:30.295 (39 laps)
- Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso: 1:30.629 (37 laps)
Session one times:
- Nico Rosberg, Williams: 1:28.952 (24 laps)
- Lewis Hamilton, McLaren: 1:29.263 (23 laps)
- Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 1:29.271 (26 laps)
- Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull: 1:29.337 (18 laps)
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari: 1:29.342 (22 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 1:29.371 (21 laps)
- Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: 1:29.398 (25 laps)
- Fernando Alonso, Renault: 1:29.422 (24 laps)
- Rubens Barrichello, Brawn: 1:29.525 (25 laps)
- Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren: 1:29.590 (20 laps)
- Jenson Button, Brawn: 1:29.747 (20 laps)
- Adrian Sutil, Force India: 1:29.864 (22 laps)
- Timo Glock, Toyota: 1:29.934 (26 laps)
- Nelson A Piquet, Renault: 1:30.132 (18 laps)
- Mark Webber, Red Bull: 1:30.176 (22 laps)
- Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber: 1:30.645 (22 laps)
- Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber: 1:30.689 (20 laps)
- Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India: 1:30.729 (22 laps)
- Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso: 1:30.838 (24 laps)
- Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso: 1:30.944 (26 laps)