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Alonso heads McLaren 1-2 in first session

NEWS STORY
08/06/2007

Ahead of today's first free practice session the air temperature is 22 degrees C, while the track temperature is 30 degrees. It is bright and sunny.

The lights go green and first out is Kubica, followed by Trulli, albers, Sato, Heidfeld, Speed, Davidson and Liuzzi. Kovalainen, Schumacher, Sutil, Webber and Button are the other 'early risers'.

In the Ferrari garage a mechanic is using a small knife on the 'hole' on the nose of one of the F2007s, clearly attempting to make the aperture a little bigger. Or maybe he simply wants to give the appearance that the Italian team is still smiling despite its trouncing at Monaco.

Eight minutes into the session, Lewis Hamilton takes to the track, the youngster getting his first taste of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. That said, he's probably done planty of laps on the team's simulator.

Coulthard is one of several drivers to complete two installation laps, though like the others - Albers, Speed, Liuzzi, Webber and Sutil - he pits at the end of the second lap.

Williams is running Nakajima in place of Rosberg in this session, the only team using a test driver. Regular readers will be aware that Pitpass has exclusively reported that should Ralf Schumacher be dropped by Toyota, Nakajima would replace him. His appearance here this weekend could be aimed at giving the German a none too subtle reminder.

As Rosberg watches from the pit-wall, Nakajima posts the first time of the day, crossing the line at 1:24.707.

As Nakajima gets down to the 1:21s, Scott speed comes out to play, even though his car is "bottoming all over the place".

As Sato, Trulli and Liuzzi post their first times of the weekend, Schumacher goes quickest, crossing the line at 20.691. The German pushes hard, lock up here and there. As Franck Montagny watches from the garage the sky clouds over.

After half an hour, there are just eight names on the timesheets - Schumacher, Trulli, Speed, Liuzzi, Sato, Nakajima, Davidson and Wurz. At which point Raikkonen leaves the Ferrari garage.

Button goes fifth with a 20.882, but is quickly demoted by Davidson. However, a 20.323 sees Raikkonen go third, thereby bumping them both down the timesheet.

As Kimi goes quickest in the second sector, the camera pans across to the Ferrari garage where Michael Schumacher has just arrived. The Finn goes quickest, posting an 18.846.

As Kimi improves by 0.030s, Massa leaves the Ferrari garage and Button goes fourth.

The Brazilian goes second (19.295), to give Ferrari 1-2.

Nick Heidfeld is on track in the BMW, getting a little crossed up at the hairpin. Nonetheless he goes fourth with a 19.610.

With fifty minutes remaining, Kubica, albers, Kovalainen, Sutil, Webber, Alonso, Hamilton and Coulthard have yet to post a time.

As Heidfeld improves to third, Hamilton leaves the McLaren garage. His first lap sees the Englishman go sixteenth (21.633), but next time around he improves to third, 0.968s off Raikkonen's time. Meanwhile, the Williams crew is changing the rear wing on Nakajima's car.

Hamilton cuts the final chicane, consequently he improves to within 0.277s of Raikkonen, while Coulthard takes a trip across the grass. Elsewhere, Barrichello is having problems with grip, as is Speed.

Hamilton takes the top spot with an 18.055, leaving Raikkonen second, ahead of Massa, Heidfeld, Schumacher, Fisichella, Trulli and Button.

There's drama in the BMW garage where there's smoke, and (briefly) flames coming out of the back of Kubica's car. Thankfully the team soon get things under control. The Pole is the only driver, other than Alonso, that hasn't posted a time.

Fifty-five minutes into the session, Alonso heads down the pitlane. His teammate is currently quickest, ahead of Raikkonen, Massa, Heidfeld, Schumacher and Trulli.

In his exuberance the Spaniard takes to the grass on his out lap, but he carries on clearly unruffled. At the line it's 19.671, which puts him ninth. However, he immediately goes quickest in the first sector. Though he loses pace in the second sector he remains ahead of his teammate, finally crossing the line at 18.1259 to go second, by 0.074. In the McLaren garage Hamilton watches his monitor intently.

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