Nico Rosberg gave Williams a boost ahead of qualifying with the fastest time in Saturday’s free practice session in Montreal.
With Williams and Red Bull Racing locked in a battle for fourth place in the constructors’ championship behind the runaway big three of McLaren Mercedes, Ferrari and BMW Sauber, Rosberg threw down the gauntlet to his mid-division rivals by posting a time of one minute 16.555 seconds early in the 60-minute session ahead of today.s qualifying session.
World champion Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest, only 0.034secs slower with a best lap of 1:16.589 in his Ferrari while McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, fastest in practice on Friday, improved steadily throughout the session to post a best lap of 1:16.725.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa clocked 1:16.787 while Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima capped a great session for his team with the fifth fastest time of 1:16.898.
Toyota’s Jarno Trulli (1:16.946), Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren (1:16.952), Renault’s Nelson Piquet (1:17.060) and Mark Webber of Red Bull (1:17.062) rounded out the top 10 after a session which lost nine minutes following an accident involving Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vittel.
The German driver hit the wall coming out of turn nine, losing his rear right wheel on impact with his front right attached only by wiring as Vittel limped towards a run-off zone.
The accident prompted a red flag as marshals cleared debris from the track and removed the stricken Toro Rosso to safety.
The was further woe for Toro Rosso when Sebastien Bourdais then brushed the same wall with his right rear wheel, the damage enough to end his session.
And despite a top-10 time, Piquet’s miserable season continued when his second spin of the session, right at the end as the chequered flag came out, saw him just avoid impact with the wall as he came to halt against it.
Less than two seconds separated the entire field with Force India’s Adrian Sutil 20th fastest, 1.869secs behind Rosberg.