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Kubica tops cautious first practice 10 Mar 2006

Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.06 Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 9 March 2006

Third drivers lead the way in first practice session

The 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship finally exploded into raucous life here at the Sakhir Circuit this morning, though it took half the session before more than six cars were circulating.

Initially it was left to the Friday test men, BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica, Williams’Alexander Wurz, Toro Rosso’s Neel Jani, Midland’s Markus Winkelhock and Red Bull’s Robert Doornbos to go out and help to clean up the track, with Wurz setting the pace on 1m 32.280s, chased by Kubica on 1m 32.621s. Then Kubica lapped in 1m 31.170s to Wurz’s improvement of 1m 31.184s to reverse the positions. Their positions remain unchanged, giving Kubica, Poland's first Formula One driver, the honour of topping his debut Grand Prix session.

After a while the others began to join in. Eventually McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen took third fastest time with 1m 33.388s, like Wurz and Red Bull’s Tonio Liuzzi briefly falling foul of a slippery Turn 10. Right behind the Finn was Michael Schumacher with 1m 33.469s. Then came Christian Klien for Red Bull with 1m 34.800s and Jani with 1m 34.831s.

Juan Pablo Montoya did a few laps for 1m 34.887s, and Felipe Massa slithered his Ferrari around in entertaining style for 1m 34.925s. David Coulthard was next up in the second Red Bull on 1m 35.017s compared to team mate Robert Doornbos’s 1m 35.203s, and they sandwiched Liuzzi on 1m 35.083s. Scott Speed in the third Toro Rosso managed 1m 35.371s.

Tiago Monteiro lapped his Midland in 1m 36.542s to pip team mate Christijan Albers on 1m 36.930s, then came their team mate Winkelhock with 1m 37.918s on his first visit to the track.

Finally, as Honda, Renault, BMW, Toyota kept their remaining cars in the garages after installation laps, it was left to Super Aguri runners Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide to bring up the rear with laps of 1m 38.190s and 1m 40.782s respectively.

This afternoon the serious running begins, when the times will fall further.