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Heidfeld splits Ferraris in final practice 09 Sep 2006

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 248 F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, 8 September 2006 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, 8 September 2006 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota TF106 leads Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault R26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 27 August 2006 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, 8 September 2006 Sakon Yamamoto (JPN) Super Aguri F1 SA06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, 8 September 2006

The storms haven’t arrived on Saturday as anticipated, but Ferrari certainly rained on everyone else’s parade in the final practice session at Monza this morning.

After Michael Schumacher set the ball rolling with a fastest time of 1m 23.715s early on, Honda’s Jenson Button, Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari, McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen and team mate Pedro de la Rosa battled away for a quicker time, the Finn resetting the ante with 1m 22.851s. But then Massa banged in 1m 21.891s, and suddenly the fun seemed over.

There was a flurry at the end as BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld leapt up to second place with 1m 22.052s, chased by Schumacher in 1m 22.257s and Robert Kubica in the second BMW Sauber on 1m 22.280s, but Massa then dropped his time to 1m 21.665s to be certain of the fastest time honours.

Behind this quartet Fernando Alonso improved to 1m 22.371s for fifth, ahead of Renault team mate Giancarlo Fisichella (1m 22.412s), Raikkonen (1m 22.682s), Honda’s Rubens Barrichello (1m 22.835s) and De la Rosa (1m 22.915s).

After their dramas yesterday Honda had opted for interim versions of their V8s for Button and Barrichello. These were not quite Turkish specification, nor quite the same high-torque spec as the engines that blew up in Anthony Davidson’s car yesterday. Since neither race car had ventured out at all on Friday, taking out their high-torque motors and substituting the interim versions did not count as official engine changes.

Christian Klien completed the top 10 for Red Bull with 1m 23.081s. Ralf Schumacher’s was the quicker Toyota on 1m 23.244s, with team mate Jarno Trulli 14th on 1m 23.467s. They were separated by Button (1m 23.295s) and Nico Rosberg in the Williams (1m 23.334s).

Red Bull’s 2007 driver line-up, David Coulthard and Mark Webber, were 15th and 16th on 1m 23.536s and 1m 23.599s respectively, followed by Toro Rosso racers Scott Speed (1m 23.659s) and Vitantonio Liuzzi (1m 23.777s).

Christijan Albers headed the Midlands with 1m 24.186s to Tiago Monteiro’s 1m 24.541s, while Takuma Sato just shaded Super Aguri partner Sakon Yamamoto on 1m 24.549s to 1m 24.717s.

There were the usual incidents in the chicanes; Schumacher Snr, Alonso, Coulthard, Trulli, Montiero and Rosberg got the first chicane wrong, while Alonso, Klien and Heidfeld misses apexes in the second. Raikkonen went off track exiting the Ascari chicane, and Barrichello ran wide in the second Lesmo.