What a BAR gain!

Jenson Button, German GP 2004

Jenson Button, German GP 2004 

 © The Cahier Archive

Jenson Button gave the men at Ferrari something to think about on Saturday morning when he set the fastest time in the two morning sessions with a lap 1m13.676s, well under the lap times of last year and under Michael Schumacher's 2002 lap record of 1m14.389s. The BAR-Honda emerged three-tenths of a second ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams-BMW, which was ahead of the two McLaren-Mercedes, the upswing in performance from the German F1 engines, suggesting that there may be some special effort going into making a good impression in front of the home crowds. The cool weather conditions may well have helped the Michelin runners as the first Ferrari was only sixth fastest. The morning session is rarely a good guide for outright performance as teams are often ussing the time for different tasks and so judging the significance is not easy.

Certainly it was unusual to see David Coulthard faster than Kimi Raikkonen and Rubens Barrichello ahead of Michael Schumacher in sixth and seventh places on the time sheets. Renault was in the hunt with Fernando Alonso fifth and Jarno Trulli eighth, while Antonio Pizzonia was ninth, ahead of the two Toyotas, Cristiano da Matta doing better than Olivier Panis on this occasion. The man missing from the frontrunners was Takuma Sato who made a mistake and pun early in the first session and thus lost valuable running time. Behind the Toyotas the Jaguar and Sauber teams lined up in pairs with the usual mish-mash of Jordans and Minardis at the back, both teams suffering damage to their cars after kerb-hopping moments from Giorgio Pantano and Zsolt Baumgartner.

The relevance of the times will be seen this afternoon when the teams go into qualifying for the German GP.

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