McLaren set themselves up for Saturday's grid-deciding qualifying session for the European Grand Prix with a perfect performance in final practice, as Kimi Raikkonen narrowly beat Juan Pablo Montoya to the top time
Raikkonen left it late to beat Montoya, as the McLaren pair matched each other throughout the session, and he finished with a time of 1:29.680, as the Renault pair of Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella settled for second best.
Alonso finished 0.307 seconds slower than Raikkonen with Fisichella 0.391 seconds back as the teams completed their final preparations for the grid-deciding qualifying session.
Jarno Trulli finished fifth fastest for Toyota, with Nick Heidfeld sixth for Williams and Takuma Sato seventh as BAR-Honda continue their racing return after being banned from the last two events.
Ralf Schumacher, in the second Toyota, split the two BAR drivers in eighth with Jenson Button ninth fastest and Michael Schumacher put Ferrari inside the top ten with a lap some 1.346 seconds slower than the lead pace.
Indian Narain Karthikeyan suffered a high-speed 360-degree spin early in the session when he lost control of his Jordan on the main straight and careered onto the tarmac run-off and Jarno Trulli missed the apex at the chicane.
Montoya led the session early on but Alonso put in a lap of 1:29, 987, the first time anyone has broken the 1:30s barrier this weekend, with 20 minutes of the session left to run.
Raikkonen then went quicker still, faster by almost two tenths of a second, as track temperatures rose to 39 degrees Celsius with air temperatures up to 26 degrees and blue skies above the circuit.
Montoya upped the pace even further when he moved ahead of Raikkonen by just 0.009 seconds but Raikkonen then exerted his authority in the closing seconds to claim top spot by 0.109 seconds.
He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him
It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…
From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...
As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing windtunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places
After winning his past few Formula 1 titles at a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit
OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences
OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining
Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives