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Alonso quickest as Toyota stumbles

NEWS STORY
27/05/2006

Ahead of today's sole free practice session the air temperature is 23 degrees C, while the track temperature is 30 degrees. Once again, the sun is shining.

The big surprise on Thursday, which, looking back, seems so long ago, was Juan Pablo Montoya, while the biggest disappointment, certainly in the second session, was Michael Schumacher.

With just the one-hour of practice this morning, ahead of what should be a lively qualifying session, we should have a much better idea of who's hot and who's not in just over an hour. Thursday was about set-ups and tyre evaluations, today, the real work begins.

One headline that amused us yesterday appeared to indicate that Kimi Raikkonen was in hot water, or at least someone was. On Thursday, having suffered an electrics fire which caused his car to grind to a halt, preventing him setting a time, the Finn was unhappy when the marshals manhandled his car, pushing it off track. He later criticised them. However, according to one website, Kimi decided to mete out his own, somewhat harsh, punishment. 'Raikkonen scalds marshals' proclaimed the headline.

When the lights go green, first out is Liuzzi, followed by Montagny, Sato, Monteiro, Albers and Fisichella. Having completed an installation lap all six return to the pits.

A couple of minutes later Jacques Villeneuve takes to the track, unlike his predecessors he stays out. That said, following Robert Kubica's accident in the second session on Thursday, neither of BMW's race drivers did any further laps, therefore Jacques and Nick have some work to catch up on.

The Canadian posts the first time of the day, crossing the line at 1:20.950. Next time around he gets it down to 1:19.341. Trulli is on track, as are Montagny and Monteiro. The Portuguese was particularly impressive on Thursday.

Ralf Schumacher and former teammate Juan Pablo Montoya come out to play, as Jacques lowers the benchmark with a 1:18.821. Trulli goes second (21.543) ahead of Montagny.

Massa, Barrichello and speed are on track, as is Raikkonen. It's getting busy, with 13 cars now lapping the tight twisty streets of the Principality.

As Montoya goes second (19.589), Michael Schumacher, still wearing those awful rhubarb and custard overalls, leaves the pits.

Massa goes second (18.538), ahead of Montoya, Trulli, Ralf and Montagny, as Alonso is strapped into his Renault.

On his first flying lap Michael goes quickest with a 1:17.505, as Monteiro goes third (18.259). Clearly someone has forgotten to tell the Portuguese youngster that he's driving a Midland.

For a fleeting moment Kimi goes quickest, but he is almost instantly deposed by Massa, who posts a 1:17.153. Next time around however, the Finn reclaims the top spot with a 1:17.048. Then Massa goes quicker still, crossing the line at 1:16.818.

Michael goes quickest in the first sector, as Villeneuve posts 17.487 to go fourth. Elsewhere, Montoya posts 1:16.915 to go second.

Write off Michael at your peril, the German posts 1:16.502 to take the top spot, ahead of Massa, Montoya, Raikkonen, Villeneuve and Monteiro. Barrichello is seventh, ahead of Speed, Button and Liuzzi.

Alonso leaves the pits, joined by Fisichella, Rosberg and Coulthard.

Button improve to sixth (17.365), as Alonso goes quickest in the first sector. The Spaniard is quickest in the final sector also, crossing the line at 1:16.397 to take top spot.

Coulthard goes seventh (17.422), ahead of Villeneuve, Heidfeld, Monteiro, Barrichello, Fisichella and Webber. With thirty-three minutes remaining, everyone has posted a time.

Alonso goes quickest in the first sector, as Rosberg goes quickest in the second. The Spaniard fails to improve, while the German goes second with a 1:16.470.

Most worrying so far is the performance of the Toyotas, which are both over 1.4s off the pace, despite having completed the most laps.

No such worries for Massa who goes quickest with a 1:16.263. The top twelve is covered by just 0.984s, and Monteiro is in that speedy dozen.

Michael goes quickest in the first sector, and again in the second. The German finally crosses the line at 1:14.376, that's 1.887s quicker than anything else we've seen today.

Giancarlo Fisichella goes second, but remains 1.797s off Schumacher's benchmark.

With twenty-five minutes remaining, it's: Michael, Fisichella, Massa, Alonso, Villeneuve, Rosberg, Webber, Barrichello, Montoya and Coulthard.

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