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Schumacher sets Imola standard 21 Apr 2006

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari 248 F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 1 April 2006

The European Formula One season kicked off slowly at Imola on Friday morning, but ended with an exciting lap from Michael Schumacher, who finished the session with the fastest time, which he set on only his second flying lap. The Ferrari star clocked a lap of 1m24.751s, nearly fourth-tenths of a second ahead of the Williams of third driver Alexander Wurz, who set a 1m25.132s.

For most of the session it was the third drivers who were in the spotlight with Wurz, BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica and Honda’s Anthony Davidson exchanging fastest laps while the bigger names stayed in the garages, conserving their engines. The majority of the field did just one or two installation laps to see that their cars were working, although all but three came out in the final quarter of an hour to do a few more laps.

It was 55 minutes before the fans saw the two Ferraris, but the crowd was not disappointed as Schumacher went to the top of the timesheets on only his second flyer. Wurz, who had completed 19 laps doing tyre evaluation and set-up work, did not respond to the Ferrari charge.

Kubica was third quickest, the Polish driving having done a total of 24 laps to record a best lap of 1m25.942s while Davidson did the most running, completing 27 laps, including three minor off-track excursions, to record a best of 1m26.012s.

Jarno Trulli was next in his Toyota with a best of 1m26.417s, ahead of Robert Doornbos's Red Bull, which recorded a 1m26.498s. Felipe Massa was seventh fastest with a 1m26.596s, just ahead of David Coulthard's Red Bull (1m26.678s) and Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren, which stopped the clocks at 1m26.938s. Christijan Albers was tenth fastest with a best of 1m28.048s in his Midland.

Next up was Toro Rosso’s Scott Speed, who set a best of 1m28.498s, followed by Midland third driver Giorgio Mondini (1m28.969s), Red Bull’s Christian Klien with a 1m29.106s and Neel Jani in the Toro Rosso, who went off at the end of the session after setting a 1m29.695s. Tiago Monteiro recorded a 1m29.697s in his Midland with the final timed laps being from Vitantonio Liuzzi in the final Toro Rosso, with a 1m30.348s and the two Super Aguris of Takuma Sato (1m31.217s) and Yuji Ide (1m31.482s). The latter ended his session with a spin.

The rest of the field did not complete a timed lap.