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Hamilton sets the pace, but Michael's shirt gets the attention

NEWS STORY
11/05/2007

Ahead of today's opening free practice session, the air temperature is 31 degrees C, while the track temperature is 24 degrees. It is bright and sunny, with similar conditions expected for the remainder of the weekend.

The lights go green and first out is Adrian Sutil in the Spyker. He's followed by Kubica, Albers, Davidson and Trulli, all of whom were in action here just over a week ago. It's worth pointing out that every team is using its race drivers, there are no 'third' drivers on duty.

The Red Bull is one of a number of cars sporting new aero devices this weekend, though Honda has (wisely) opted to leave its 'Dumbo' ears at home. BMW and McLaren have their curious new front wings with them today.

Six minutes into the session, Jenson Button goes out. However, unlike the previous thirteen drivers, the Englishman stay out for a second lap, as does teammate Rubens Barrichello. Neither drivers posts a time though, each opting merely to complete two installation laps.

After just one lap, Scott speed is complaining of "problems", claiming that there is "no travel" in the throttle pedal, "it's either full on or very little," he tells his crew.

After thirteen minutes, everyone bar Wurz and the Ferrari drivers have been out. However, nobody has posted a time. In the Red Bull garage, Mark Webber is in animated conversation with Helmut Marko. Teammate, David Coulthard, posted a new unofficial lap record here last Thursday, the final day of testing.

Jenson Button is back on track, the RA107 looking a real handful, even at this stage of the weekend. As the Englishman heads back to the pits, Rosberg, Schumacher and Barrichello leave their garages.

Rosberg sets the benchmark, but this is quickly, eclipsed by Ralf Schumacher, who crosses the line at 1:24.141. Wurz goes third with a 25.659.

Schumacher improves (23.541), as teammate Trulli goes second. Moments later the two Toyota drivers swap positions.

Trulli gradually raises the benchmark, getting the time down to 23.010, as speed continues to complain about his pedals. Maybe he simply has big feet… and we all know what they say about big feet!

Liuzzi goes fifth having gone wide, the Italian crossing the line 5s down on Trulli. Meanwhile, Nick Heidfeld is on track. Having taken three consecutive fourth places, the German hopes for a podium result this weekend.

After thirty minutes, it's: Trulli, Schumacher, Wurz, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Barrichello, Davidson, Sato, Liuzzi, Sutil and Albers.

Fernando Alonso is on track, and is already 0.4s up on Trulli in the first sector. He takes another 0.4s in the second sector, finally crossing the line at 1:22.449. In the Ferrari garage, Massa and Raikkonen watch the monitors from the relative comfort of the workbenches, neither driver seems concerned.

Alonso improves (22.268), as Kubica goes fourth.

Lewis Hamilton, on his first timed lap, goes third, crossing the line at 22.863. The English youngster wasn't quickest in any of the sectors, which indicates that there is plenty of room for improvement. On cue, Alonso goes quickest in the first sector, however, he fails to improve his overall time.

Forty minutes into the session, Kimi Raikkonen leaves the Ferrari garage. The Finn goes ninth, 1.250s down on Alonso. Elsewhere, almost unnoticed, Hamilton goes second.

Raikkonen improves to sixth, ahead of Fisichella, Rosberg, Wurz and Kovalainen. Meanwhile, Webber goes eighth, the Red Bull showing real signs of improvement.

However, despite the action on track, attention shifts to the paddock as Michael Schumacher arrives. As the seven-time World Champion works his way through the throng of photographers, Robert Kubica leaves the BMW garage.

Possibly - just possibly - fired up by Michael's arrival, Kimi Raikkonen goes second (22.291), splitting the two McLarens. The Finn is just 0.023s down on Alonso.

The Williams drivers have completed the most laps thus far, with Rosberg having completed 16 and Wurz 15. Nonetheless, they remain tenth and eleventh.

Coulthard spins to a halt, though it's not clear why, the rear end appeared to break loose under braking. Elsewhere, Felipe Massa is on track.

No fireworks from the Brazilian, who like his teammate, prefers to find his feet. His first 'flying' lap sees him go fourteenth, though he improves to sixth with a 22.991.

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