Kubica leads in French GP first practice

Kubica leads in French GP first practice

Robert Kubica opened the proceedings at Magny Cours on Friday morning with the best time in the first practice session for the French Grand Prix. BMW Sauber's third driver clocked 1:16.794, just over three tenths quicker than Honda counterpart ...

Robert Kubica opened the proceedings at Magny Cours on Friday morning with the best time in the first practice session for the French Grand Prix. BMW Sauber's third driver clocked 1:16.794, just over three tenths quicker than Honda counterpart Anthony Davidson. Honda's Jenson Button was the fastest race driver in third.

BMW Sauber front wing with the new vertical winglets.
Photo by xpb.cc.

BMW is using those odd vertical wings halfway between the nose and cockpit as they did in testing recently. The team previously said it wasn't likely to use the wings in races but perhaps they've changed their minds after having to modify the rear wing on instruction of the FIA. Whatever the case, the new aero additions are hardly an aesthetic triumph.

The conditions were good at the start of the session, the track temperature around 40 degrees and the air some 10 degrees lover. Kubica was first out on the circuit followed by other team No.3s: MF1's Adrian Sutil, Williams' Alex Wurz, Davidson, Red Bull's Robert Doornbos and Toro Rosso's Neel Jani.

Franck Montagny's Super Aguri was the first race driver to appear, then MF1's Tiago Monteiro. Wurz clocked 1:20.991 and Davidson was two seconds off, while Super Aguri third driver Sakon Yamamoto joined the activity. He will take over Montagny's race seat at the next Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

Christijan Albers' MF1 and Takuma Sato's Super Aguri went out for installation laps but Wurz and Davidson were the only ones putting in any times early on. Wurz lowered his to 1:19.731 and Davidson was three and a half tenths adrift. After 10 minutes Kubica and Sutil posted third and fourth, then Kubica improved to the top, 1:19.325.

He continued to lap, his next a 1:19.057, leaving Wurz nearly seven tenths down. Yamamoto took sixth behind Jani and Jacques Villeneuve's BMW Sauber was next to venture out. Jani moved up to second, four tenths off Kubica and Doornbos finally got onto the time sheet in sixth but there was not much action.

Davidson took over at the top with a 1:18.677 but it was short lived as Kubica replied with a 1:17.790, leaving the Honda nearly nine tenths behind. After half an hour Sato posted seventh and made it eight on the list, while Sutil moved up to third. One or two other drivers had been out for installation laps but it was still fairly quiet.

Yamamoto bought out the yellow flags when the Super Aguri came to a halt in the middle sector. There was a little flurry of activity at the top of the times afterwards, Jani up to third and Davidson closed the gap to Kubica to under a tenth. Montagny posted eighth and his next lap saw him take seventh off teammate Sato.

In the last ten minutes the McLaren of Pedro de la Rosa appeared, the test driver replacing the abruptly departed Juan Pablo Montoya. Kubica improved his top time to 1:16.794 and several drivers more emerged in the final few minutes.

Villeneuve posted eighth and Monteiro and Albers 10th and 11th, then came the Williams of Nico Rosberg and Jarno Trulli's Toyota. The second Toyota of Ralf Schumacher popped up in sixth and then moved up to third. Honda's Jenson Button arrived at the last season to take the third spot and that was the end of the session.

It was the usual Friday morning activity, or lack of it, and with so few of the front runners bothering to set a time there's little to discuss. Final top eight classification: Kubica, Davidson, Button, R. Schumacher, Sutil, Jani, Wurz, Villeneuve.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Sauber , McLaren , Toro Rosso , Williams