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NEWS STORY
10/06/2006

Although some of the times posted here earlier today, certainly in the case of Michael Schumacher, compare with last year's pole time, they are a couple of seconds shy of the times witnessed in testing earlier this year.

One of the key factors is the difference in temperature between when the cars tested here in late April, and now, the middle of 'flaming June'. The data gathered during the tests counts for nought, as witnessed not only by the difference in times, but also by the amount of offs, as drivers attempt to find a decent set-up, and the right amount of grip. Watching the drivers this weekend it has been surprising to see just how hard many of them are having to work in their cockpits. That said, one team that doesn't appear to be having the same problem is Ferrari, which hasn't run here since last year's Grand Prix. It would seems that April's test may have actually set many of the teams back when preparing for this weekend.

What we're saying is that today's qualifying session is going to be about 'trial and error', and don't be surprised to see some 'new' names make it through to the final phase of the session.

Anyway, ahead of today's session, the air temperature is 29 degrees, while the track temperature is 43 degrees.

When the lights go green, Nick Heidfeld, who finished second this morning, is first out, followed by Alonso, Ralf, Albers, Sato and Montagny. The fact that Alonso is going out so early is clear proof that this session is no 'piece of cake', nobody, even the World Champion, is confident with their set-up. The wind speed, which is up on this morning, isn't helping.

Albers posts the first time of the session, the Dutchman crossing the line at 1:24.372. Moments later Alonso goes quickest, posting a 1:23.511.

Raikkonen is on track as Coulthard goes quickest in the first sector, going on to take second place with a 23.892. Alonso fails to improve as Scott Speed goes quickest with a 1:23.202.

Trulli returns to the pits with smoke pouring out of his car, having failed to post a time. The Italian is pushed into his garage, his session appearing to be over before it has begun.

Both Ferraris are on track as Raikkonen goes fourth (23.825), behind Speed, Alonso and Klien.

Button goes second (23.247), as Montoya goes off into the gravel. The Colombia is able to continue as teammate Raikkonen also has an moment.

Barrichello goes quickest, but is quickly overhauled by the Ferrari duo, as Massa goes quickest ahead of Schumacher.

With five minutes remaining, Villeneuve, Rosberg, Webber, Fisichella and Trulli have yet to post a time. That said, Trulli will not be going out again today.

Alonso goes quickest in the first two sectors, finally crossing the line at 1:21.018, as Webber goes eighth. Montoya takes fourth, ahead of Fisichella, Speed and Barrichello.

A 1:21.637 sees Villeneuve goes second, as Ralf, Heidfeld and Coulthard remain in the 'danger zone'.

Heidfeld goes fifth (21.670), which drops Klien in to the 'danger zone'. Another man who is not entirely safe is Jenson Button, indeed the Englishman appears to have missed the cut having been called into the weighbridge. Meanwhile, Webber also misses the cut when Monteiro improves to go thirteenth, the Australian appearing to pay the price for only doing one run.

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