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Raikkonen eases ahead in opening practice 20 Oct 2006

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Brazil, 19 October 2006

Kimi Raikkonen left it all to the final five minutes, but that was all the McLaren star needed to snatch fastest time away from Honda’s Anthony Davidson in the first practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Davidson had scrapped all session with Williams’ Alexander Wurz, the English driver lapping in 1m 13.902s, the Austrian in 1m 13.922s. But in the dying minute the Finn usurped them with 1m 13.764s, seemingly with ease.

In overcast and cool but dry conditions, fellow McLaren pilot Pedro de la Rosa set the fifth-best time of 1m 14.237s, right on the heels of newly re-signed BMW Sauber driver Sebastien Vettel who took his F1.06 round in 1m 14.204s on his first visit to Interlagos.

Honda’s Jenson Button came out near the end for 1m 14.487s and sixth-best time, just ahead of Jarno Trulli (a spinner in Turn 9) who pushed his Toyota to 1m 14.888s. Neel Jani had a good run for Toro Rosso for eighth on 1m 15.159s, and Honda’s Rubens Barrichello (1m 15.661s) and Red Bull’s Michael Ammermueller (1m 15.711s) completed the top 10.

Ralf Schumacher, like his Toyota team mate, only ran near the end for his best lap of 1m 16.168s, then came Takuma Sato on 1m 16.534s in the lead Super Aguri. Newcomer Ernesto Viso had two spins on his debut for Spyker MF1, but otherwise looked reasonable as he set his fastest time of 1m 16.737s for 13th overall. That put him ahead of Red Bull’s Scott Speed and Tonio Liuzzi, who ran briefly for Toro Rosso (1m 17.047s and 1m 17.311s respectively), and Sakon Yamamoto and Franck Montagny in their Super Aguris (1m 17.388s and 1m 17.744s respectively).

Neither of the Ferraris or race Williams ran (though Michael Schumacher was all dressed ready to go in the final 10 minutes); the rest did just installation laps.