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Ferrari take charge in final practice 21 Oct 2006

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 248 F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 20 October 2006 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 20 October 2006 Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1 SA06 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 20 October 2006 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota TF106.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 20 October 2006 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 20 October 2006

Rivals struggle to stay with Massa and Schumacher

Ferrari set the pace throughout Saturday morning’s final practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, with Michael Schumacher in charge right up until the end, when Felipe Massa went quicker.

The two Ferraris ventured out again right at the end when times began to tumble as fuel loads were reduced and new tyres went on. Having dominated with a lap of 1m 11.925s, the first to beat Fernando Alonso’s 2005 pole time of 1m 11.988s, Schumacher nipped out in the closing minutes to reduce that to 1m 11.631s. But then Massa slipped in 1m 11.443s, to the delight of his countrymen in the stands.

Behind them, the rest were left a trifle breathless, rather as the Michelin runners had been in qualifying in Suzuka, though the gap was not as large. Jenson Button got closest to them in his Honda with a best of 1m 12.306s, with Robert Kubica on his tail for BMW Sauber in 1m 12.535s. The best Renault was Giancarlo Fisichella’s with 1m 12.567s, then came Rubens Barrichello on 1m 12.697s for Honda, Alonso on 1m 12.721s for Renault, and the McLarens of Kimi Raikkonen on 1m 12.723s and Pedro de la Rosa on 1m 12.780s. It seems likely, however, that we didn’t see Alonso’s maximum speed this morning.

Nick Heidfeld completed the top 10 for BMW Sauber with 1m 13.037s, chased by the Williams of Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg on 1m 13.205s and 1m 13.380s respectively. Scott Speed and Tonio Liuzzi went at it head-to-head all session in their Toro Rossos, at one stage setting exactly the same time. In the end the American shaded the Italian, 1m 13.455s to 1m 13.530s. Robert Doornbos was 15th for Red Bull with 1m 13.564s, but after an overnight engine change will get a 10-place grid penalty this afternoon.

He headed Ralf Schumacher who was Toyota’s quicker runner on 1m 13.642s, then came Takuma Sato for Super Aguri on 1m 13.814s, Tiago Monteiro for Spyker MF1 on 1m 13.832s, David Coulthard on 1m 13.944s for Red Bull and an unhappy Jarno Trulli on 1m 14.051s in the second Toyota. At the back came Spyker MF1’s Christijan Albers (1m 14.108s) and Sakon Yamamoto (1m 14.875s). The Japanese Super Aguri driver spun in Turn 7, but he wasn’t alone. Fisichella, Schumacher Snr and Rosberg all had spins too.

The question now is can anyone catch Ferrari in qualifying?