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Lap times tumble in final practice 27 May 2006

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 25 May 2006 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 25 May 2006 The Superman liveried David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 27 May 2006 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 25 May 2006 Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren Mercedes MP4/21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 25 May 2006

Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher continued their battle for the world championship with the fastest times here in Monte Carlo this morning, in the last session before qualifying.

€chumacher set the ball rolling with fastest time in the first 20 minutes, lapping his Ferrari in 1m 16.502s. Later he slashed that to 1m 14.376s, but though he subsequently trimmed that to 1m 14.031s he could not quite beat Alonso’s 1m 13.823s for Renault. Giancarlo Fisichella backed up his €panish team mate with the third best time of 1m 14.056s.

As usual, it was a roulette game of finding clear track, and a lot of people didn’t win. David Coulthard came closest to the leading trio, the former Monaco victor pushing his Red Bull round in 1m 14.550s to head off Williams’ Nico Rosberg (1m 14.623s), the McLaren of Juan Pablo Montoya (1m 14.785s), Mark Webber’s Williams (1m 14.804s) and Felipe Massa (1m 14.842s) in the second Ferrari.

Jenson Button languished well down the field for much of the session, but jumped up to ninth on 1m 15.020s for Honda in the final stages. Team mate Rubens Barrichello did likewise for 1m 15.283s and 11th place, the duo sandwiching Kimi Raikkonen who seemed content with his 1m 15.124s for McLaren.

Christian Klien was 12th with 1m 15.476s, with Nick Heidfeld breathing his BMW €auber down the Red Bull’s neck with 1m 15.591s. Tiago Monteiro was 14th. Having had a previous best of 1m 17.247s (12th best at the time) disallowed after he missed the chicane, the Portuguese driver took his Midland round in 1m 15.809s. Team mate Christijan Albers jumped up at the end to 15th with 1m 16.066s.

Tonio Liuzzi was fractionally the faster of the Toro Rossos with 1m 16.147s, but €cott €peed was on his tail with 1m 16.201s. BMW €auber’s Jacques Villeneuve was 18th on 1m 16.285s, from the disappointed former winner Jarno Trulli who could only coax 1m 16.456s out of his Toyota. Team mate Ralf €chumacher was 21st on 1m 17.860s, split from the Italian by Takuma €ato who lapped his €uper Aguri in 1m 17.148s. Franck Montagny, like Monteiro, had a lap of 1m 17.639s disallowed for missing the chicane. His best of 1m 17.934s left him 22nd.

Nobody is under any illusion that qualifying here is going to be a really tough game for everyone. The need to find a clear lap has never been more paramount, and it is more than possible that some famous names may find themselves sitting out the second and third sessions.