De la Rosa Stays on Top at Imola

McLaren were given a boost in Friday afternoon's practice for the San Marino Grand Prix when Pedro de la Rosa and Kimi Raikkonen finished first and third fastest in the second session

De la Rosa Stays on Top at Imola

De la Rosa, who raced for the team in Bahrain but returned to his usual third driver role this weekend, beat his session-leading lap in the first session with a time of 1:20.484 in the second to end the day on top of the pile.

But Jenson Button signalled his and BAR-Honda's intent to return to the sharp end of Formula One this weekend when he finished second fastest, albeit 0.568 seconds behind the lead McLaren.

Button, whose team have failed to finish a race so far this season, was confident of improved pace heading into this weekend's event after a strong performance in testing in the last two weeks.

The British driver, whose car has an improved engine and aerodynamics, finished with a time of 1:21.052, set early in the session, to split the McLaren drivers and leave Kimi Raikkonen, of Finland, third.

Toyota test driver Ricardo Zonta finished fourth fastest with Spaniard Fernando Alonso, the World Championship leader, fifth fastest for Renault despite completing just 10 laps.

World Champion Michael Schumacher finished right behind in sixth place with his Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello seventh as the Italian team continued their fightback from a disappointing start to the year.

Alex Wurz, who is substituting for the injured Juan Pablo Montoya this weekend, put his McLaren in eighth place and Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato completed the top ten for Renault and BAR respectively.

With half the session gone Button was on the top of the times with a lap of 1:21.052, almost a second ahead of second-placed Barrichello and 0.008 seconds faster than de la Rosa's fastest run in the morning session.

Jordan test driver Robert Doornbos went off at Aqua Minerale and spun across the gravel trap before coming to rest against the barriers, but he recovered and returned to the pits with only damage to his car's front wing.

The top runners remained the same with 20 minutes to go and while Fisichella, who chose not to run in the first session, sat in third his teammate Fernando Alonso, who also set no laps in the first run, finally came out of the garage.

Narain Karthikeyan was the second Jordan to leave the circuit when he went wide at the Villeneuve corner, Red Bull Racing driver Christian Klien missed his braking point at the Traguado chicane and Ralf Schumacher spun at the Variante Alta.

Alonso moved into the top ten with a solid lap while, at the front, Raikkonen deposed Barrichello from second but was still more than half a second shy of Button's best time but de la Rosa eventually toppled the Briton.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:20.484 31 2. Button BAR-Honda (M) 1:21.052 + 0.568 28 3. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:21.704 + 1.220 16 4. Zonta Toyota (M) 1:21.889 + 1.405 35 5. Alonso Renault (M) 1:21.899 + 1.415 10 6. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:22.025 + 1.541 24 7. Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1:22.048 + 1.564 22 8. Wurz McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:22.174 + 1.690 17 9. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:22.211 + 1.727 23 10. Sato BAR-Honda (M) 1:22.335 + 1.851 27 11. Massa Sauber-Petronas (M) 1:22.791 + 2.307 23 12. Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas (M) 1:22.955 + 2.471 22 13. Trulli Toyota (M) 1:23.343 + 2.859 20 14. Heidfeld Williams-BMW (M) 1:23.458 + 2.974 16 15. R.Schumacher Toyota (M) 1:23.466 + 2.982 21 16. Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:23.815 + 3.331 20 17. Karthikeyan Jordan-Toyota (B) 1:23.842 + 3.358 16 18. Webber Williams-BMW (M) 1:23.964 + 3.480 14 19. Klien Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:24.320 + 3.836 38 20. Monteiro Jordan-Toyota (B) 1:24.573 + 4.089 21 21. Liuzzi Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:24.626 + 4.142 29 22. Doornbos Jordan-Toyota (B) 1:25.172 + 4.688 15 23. Friesacher Minardi-Cosworth (B) 1:26.620 + 6.136 14 24. Albers Minardi-Cosworth (B) No Time All timing unofficial 
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