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1-2 for Renault in first free practice

NEWS STORY
11/06/2005

Ahead of today's first free practice session, the air temperature is 28 degrees C, while the track temperature is 35 degrees.

Yesterday it was the McLarens and Renaults that set the pace, with Sauber, Red Bull and Ferrari looking particularly off-form.

The lights go green, but there is no mad rush to get out on track, however, eventually Patrick Friesacher is stirred into action, followed by Tiago Monteiro.

Having completed an installation lap, both drivers return to their garages, which is the signal for Albers to come out.

Eight minutes into the session, Kimi Raikkonen is the first of the 'big guns' to emerge, he's followed by Karthikeyan and Montoya.

Thirteen minutes into the session, and with no times on the timesheets, and only six drivers having 'tested the waters', Monteiro returns to the track and sets the benchmark, 1:23.587. Next time around the Portuguese driver improves to 1:21.753, as the opposition waits resolutely in the pits.

As Monteiro posts a 1:21.341, Friesacher comes out to play.

The Austrian posts a 1:22.676, with half of the session run, his and Monteiro's are the only names on the timesheets.

On his second flying lap, the Minardi driver goes quickest, posting a 1:21.201, thereby further underlying his continued improvement this season.

Karthikeyan is back on track, joined by World Championship leader, Fernando Alonso. Takuma Sato is also on track, as is Giancarlo Fisichella.

Alonso stays out and immediately goes 0.8s quicker than Friesacher in the first sector. He crosses the line at 1:17.897, to go quickest, as Karthikeyan goes fourth - of four - with a 1:22.167.

A 1:18.926 sees Sato go second, however both he and Alonso are quickly demoted by Fisichella who crosses the line at 1:17.589.

Ralf Schumacher is on track in the Toyota, as Sato consolidates third position with a 1:18.410.

As Ralf goes fifth (19.737), Barrichello leaves the Ferrari garage, joined, moments later, by his teammate.

Raikkonen is on track and immediately goes quickest in the first sector, though he loses a little ground in the second. As Barrichello goes eighth (22.866), the Finn goes second with a 1:17.833. Elsewhere, Ralf improves to fourth (17.976). Michael Schumacher can only manage tenth, crossing the line at 1:25.048.

A 1:17.500 sees Raikkonen go quickest, as Coulthard goes sixth (19.143) only to be leapfrogged by Michael Schumacher, who posts a 1:18.685. Moments later these two are split by Jarno Trulli (19.121).

Rubens Barrichello takes sixth spot from his Ferrari teammate, as Mark Webber goes thirteenth, of thirteen, with a 1:22.153. Meanwhile teammate Nick Heidfeld goes seventh (18.010).

Trulli improves to third, then immediately goes quickest in the first sector. He loses pace in the second sector, but regains it in the third to go quickest (17.441).

Almost instantly however, he's outpaced by his former Renault teammate, Alonso, who posts a 1:16.998. Next time around the Spaniard consolidates his position with a 1:16.961, as Button goes second (17.195) ahead of Heidfeld, Trulli and Webber.

Heidfeld goes quickest (16.569) but is instantly leapfrogged by Alonso, who posts 1:16.062. The pace is frantic, with just five minutes remaining.

Only two drivers haven't posted a time, Montoya and Massa, as Alonso raises the benchmark with a 1:15.837.

Klien goes eleventh, ahead of Karthikeyan, who appears to have taken Colin Kolles' advice and has raised his game this weekend.

Montoya goes fifth (17.045), as Massa goes sixteenth (18.639), meanwhile teammate, Jacques Villeneuve, goes ninth (17.469).

Takuma Sato improves to fourth, as Alonso and Raikkonen both improve.

It's a Renault 1-2 as Fisichella slots in behind his Spanish teammate, leaving Raikkonen third, ahead of Button, Webber and Heidfeld.

Michael Schumacher takes tenth, edging out his brother, but the World Champion remains 1.4s off the pace.

Barrichello also improves, but remains fifteenth, one place ahead of Coulthard, though Michael gives the tifosi hopes as he drags the Ferrari up to seventh with a 1:16.538.

The session ends with Alonso quickest, ahead of Fisichella, Raikkonen, Sato, Button, Webber, Michael, Heidfeld, Montoya and Massa.

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