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Davidson dominates Albert Park opener 31 Mar 2006

Anthony Davidson (GBR) Honda Racing F1 Team Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 30 March 2006

Anthony Davidson was consistently the fastest man round Albert Park this morning, ending the first hour of practice for the Australian GP with a best of 1m 28.259s which compared with Giancarlo Fisichella’s 2005 pole time of 1m 28.289s.

Most of the time the Englishman chipped away at his best time in cool, overcast conditions, but right at the end he was on a very quick lap in his Honda RA106 until he came upon the Toro Rosso of Scott Speed, and suddenly the lap was gone.

Davidson completed 26 laps, seven more than next fastest man Robert Doornbos who lapped his Red Bull RB2 in 1m 28.559s and generally showed well apart from a spin in Turn 3. Jacques Villeneuve did a surprising 16 laps for BMW Sauber for the third fastest time of 1m 28.595s, but this was not a great session for the German-Swiss team as test driver Robert Kubica (who set the initial pace) suffered an engine failure after lapping in 1m 29.576s.

McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen needed only five laps for 1m 28.713s which was good enough for fourth ahead of Felipe Massa (1m 29.025s) and Michael Schumacher (1m 29.041s) in their Ferraris. Raikkonen had one grassy moment in Turn 6, as did seventh fastest Ralf Schumacher who took his Toyota round in 1m 29.411s. Team mate Jarno Trulli did only two laps without trying for a time.

Alexander Wurz was Williams’ only runner, the Austrian doing 19 laps for eighth fastest time of 1m 29.461s just ahead of Kubica, and Christian Klien completed the top 10 for Red Bull with 1m 29.601s. Team mate David Coulthard was right behind him on 1m 29.676s.

Then there was a gap to Speed’s 1m 31.017s, Christijan Albers on 1m 31.039s for Midland and his team mate, Tiago Monteiro, on 1m 31.812s.

Another big gap separated Takuma Sato from the Midlands, the Japanese driver lapping his Super Aguri in 1m 34.036s to head team mate Yuji Ide on 1m 36.684s. Markus Winkelhock lapped his Midland in 1m 36.859s and Neel Jani was the final timed runner with 1m 40.8128s. Unfortunately the underrated Swiss driver lost his Toro Rosso under braking for Turn 9 and removed its front wing against the wall at the start of his quick lap, and took no further part in the session.

The Renault drivers did two untimed laps apiece, as did Trulli and Tonio Liuzzi, while Juan Pablo Montoya, Nick Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello did only one each. Nico Rosberg, local hero Mark Webber and Jenson Button didn’t go out.