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BMW Sauber one-two in final practice 15 Jul 2006

Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) BMW Sauber F1.06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, French Grand Prix, Practice Day, Magny-Cours, France, 14 July 2006

Jacques Villeneuve and Nick Heidfeld set the fastest times in Saturday’s final practice session at Magny-Cours for BMW Sauber, the French-Canadian lapping in 1m 17.005s, the German in 1m 17. 049s. The times at the top were very close, however, with Jarno Trulli right behind in third for Toyota on 1m 17.056s and another eight drivers within a second.

They were: Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber for Williams (1m 17.188s and 1m 17.358s respectively); Jenson Button for Honda (1m 17.476s); Kimi Raikkonen and Pedro de la Rosa for McLaren (1m 17.556s and 1m 17.653s respectively); Ralf Schumacher for Toyota (1m 17.666s); David Coulthard for Red Bull (1m 17.859s); and Giancarlo Fisichella (1m 17.995s).

Renault only 11th quickest? Well, yes. Fisichella had an off-track moment in Turn 12, while Fernando Alonso was only 16th after a minor off in Turn 5 while seeking a faster time than 1m 18.447s right at the end of the session.

Ferrari were also way off the pace of the front-runners. Michael Schumacher had been fastest in 1m 18.214s when his Ferrari’s left-hand bank of exhausts caught fire in the pits, and he didn’t reappear. Eventually his time stood up for 14th place ahead of team mate Felipe Massa’s 1m 18.396s, the Brazilian spinning early on in Turn 8.

Christijan Albers was 12th for Midland with 1m 18.059s, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Vitantonio Liuzzi on 1m 18.199s. Tiago Monteiro was 17th with 1m 18.487s, ahead of Scott Speed (1m 18.545s), Christian Klien (1m 18.631s) and Rubens Barrichello (1m 18.961s).

Franck Montagny was the leading Super Aguri runner on 1m 19.497s, but Takuma Sato had only reached 1m 21.497s when his SA05 ground to halt in Turn 10.

It will be interesting to see just who jumps up the order and who can retain their speed in qualifying, but you wouldn’t bank on Renault and Ferrari staying where they were.