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Paul Ricard day one - Alonso by a whisker 17 May 2006

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R26 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 30 March 2006

Renault maintained their edge over Ferrari as this week’s testing got underway at the French circuit of Paul Ricard on Tuesday. Fernando Alonso clocked the best time, with Felipe Massa less than a tenth of a second behind.

With Monaco preparations the order of the day for most of the teams, the circuit was set up in its ‘2D SC’ configuration, the one that best simulates the tight confines of the Monte Carlo street circuit.

Toyota had a promising day with their TF106B machine, due to make its race debut in Monaco, with Jarno Trulli third fastest, less than a tenth of a second behind Alonso. And in the second Renault seat, Heikki Kovalainen was charged with shaking down a brand new R26 chassis.

The McLarens of Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya were fifth and sixth fastest respectively. The team’s focus for the week will be the MP4-21’s cooling and bodywork package for Monaco, engine work, aerodynamic testing for Canada and Michelin tyre selection for Monaco and Montreal.

The BMW Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica took seventh and eighth in the timesheets, ahead of the Toro Rosso of Scott Speed, who outpaced his Red Bull team mates, Christian Klien and Robert Doornbos.

Testing continues at Paul Ricard until Friday.

Unofficial Tuesday times from Paul Ricard:
1. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:05.686
2. Felipe Massa, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:05.707
3. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:05.752
4. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:05.889
5. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:05.996
6. Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (Michelin), 1:06.177
7. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:06.466
8. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:06.588
9. Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (Michelin), 1:06.725
10. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:07.009
11. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:07.016
12. Robert Doornbos, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:07.760