Malaysian GP 2006

MARCH 18, 2006

Practice 3 Report - The duel continues

Fernando Alonso, Malaysian GP 2006
© The Cahier Archive

Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso continued their Bahrain battle in Malaysia on Saturday morning, the two men ending the session first and second, separated by 0.05secs. The bad news for Ferrari was that after the session Michael and his engineers decided that they would change the engine of the car and thus accept a 10-place penalty on the grid. Thus the best Michael can do is to start 11th in the race, which isd bound to be a big handicap for the German driver. He is not the only one in trouble with Felipe Massa and David Coulthard also having to take penalties. All three use Ferrari V8 engines.

During the morning session the Ferraris were obviously pushing hard with Michael surviving a dramatic wobble and Massa locking up to such an extent that his tyres were not simply flat-spotted but actually falling apart. The session had a few other minor incidences the biggest being a spin for Tiago Monteiro early in the session.

Although Schumacher set the fastest time, his lap could probably have been beaten by Alonso who set the fastest time in the first two sectors and then appeared to back off in the third, but was still only a fraction slower than Michael. Giancarlo Fisichella (who has a new engine after his retirement in Bahrain) was third quickest two-tenths ahead of Jenson Button with Christian Klien next in his Red Bull. More impressive however was Kimi Raikkonen who was sixth quickest after just eight laps. Whether the times are significant or not is hard to judge because teams were doing different work but Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli were much better placed in their Toyotas than they were in Bahrain. Ralf was seventh, Nico Rosberg eighth, David Coulthard ninth and Jarno Trulli 10th.