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Ferrari to the fore in first practice 29 Jun 2007

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Preparations, Magny-Cours, France, Thursday, 28 June 2007 David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Practice Day, Magny-Cours, France, Friday, 29 June 2007

The Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa set the initial pace in opening practice here at Magny-Cours this morning, the Finn showing his team mate the way round by 0.065s. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was a further 0.772s adrift.

Raikkonen was fastest all through the session, finally recording 1m 15.382s compared to Massa’s 1m 15.447s. Alonso posted 1m 16.154s.

Lewis Hamilton’s day got off to a bad start when he lost almost an hour of running time as his McLaren glided to a halt at the side of the track in Turn 5. The engine’s automatic cut-out had activated itself as self-protection to a perceived potential problem. He was able to get going again with 33 minutes left. Almost immediately he lapped only tenths slower than Alonso, before improving on the Spaniard’s time. In the end the championship leader had to be content with 1m 16.277s, which left him in sixth place separated from Alonso by late improvers Nico Rosberg on 1m 16.214s for Williams and Red Bull’s David Coulthard on 1m 16.268s.

Hamilton’s problem apart, it was a relatively quiet session; Coulthard went off briefly in Turn 12, while Williams’ Alex Wurz was off the road in Turn 13 and both Spyker’s Christijan Albers and Super Aguri’s Takuma Sato missed the apex in Turn 7. Later Albers went off, in Turn 3, without hitting anything, and Sato also ran into the gravel there.

Nick Heidfeld was seventh on 1m 16.338s, with Wurz interposing his Williams between the two BMW Saubers as Robert Kubica was ninth on his return to cockpit duty. Wurz lapped in 1m 16.407s, Kubica in 1m 16.441s.

Jarno Trulli completed the top 10 for Toyota with 1m 16.603s, chased by late improver Tonio Liuzzi (1m 16.896s) in the Toro Rosso, Sato (1m 16.967s) and Rubens Barrichello in the revamped Honda (1m 16.990s).

Jenson Button was 14th, close behind his team mate with 1m 17.047s, with another six cars hard on his heels. These were led by Toro Rosso’s Scott Speed (1m 17.103s), Super Aguri’s Anthony Davidson (1m 17.166s), Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher (1m 17.168s), the Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen (1m 17.226s and 1m 17.348s), and Red Bull’s Mark Webber (1m 17.435s). At the back, Albers headed Spyker team mate Adrian Sutil, 1m 18.178s to 1m 18.419s.

Given the positions of the McLarens and their lap times relative to the Ferraris, and the position of the Renaults, it is safe to suggest that some teams were on different strategies to others this morning, and the times should be a lot closer this afternoon.