Saturday, September 30, 2006
China Grand Prix Preview
The 2006 championship is going down to the wire, and TV viewers around the world are savouring the duel between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher during the last three races of the season.
In the same spirit, the organisers of the Chinese Grand Prix have shown that they can take a lighter touch when it comes to this deadly serious fight. At the end of the long back straight at the circuit, two grandstand sit opposite each other. And they have now been christened ‘Michael Schumacher’ and ‘Fernando Alonso’!
Mr Yu Zhifei, general manager of SIC Management and Development Co. Ltd., is proud of the results: “The two grandstands are absolutely identical ,and will allow the fans to choose their allegiance this weekend!”
For the moment, the number of fans in each stand has been very similar… let’s see who wins the vote on Sunday!
The Honda Racing F1 Team began its preparations for the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix today.
All three of the team’s drivers – third driver Anthony Davidson, plus race drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello – took to the 5.451-kilometre Shanghai International Circuit and the early indications for Sunday’s 56-lap race were positive.
The RA106 was immediately on the pace in the first one-hour session, with Davidson and Button second and third fastest. Barrichello, who won the inaugural Chinese GP in 2004, worked on a different tyre comparison programme during the session and was back in 12th place.
On a damp but drying track, Michael Schumacher has laid down the gauntlet to championship leader Fernando Alonso with the fastest time in Shanghai practice this morning. The German’s time of 1:40.193 was set towards the end of the session, and beat Fernando’s best by just 0.172 seconds.
Jenson Button took third position for Honda, a further two tenths behind Fernando, as the surprise of the session saw Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed take fourth and fifth for Toro Rosso with all of the drivers falling within a second of the best laptime of the day.
Mark Webber ended up sixth for Williams ahead of Albers in the Spyker, Giancarlo Fisichella’s Renault, the McLaren of Pedro de la Rosa and David Coulthard’s Red Bull.
Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen were the only drivers not to set a lap in an uncertain session, as running was kept to a minimum before this afternoon’s qualifying session. With the weather proving changeable, nobody is any the wiser as to what this afternoon’s session has in store. It should prove thrilling.
All three drivers completed more mileage in session two, during which rain was a constant threat. With 20 minutes of the session remaining, drizzle began to fall, which was enough to slow lap times compared to session one, but not enough to force the drivers off their grooved Michelin tyres.
Images and news compiled from Honda and Renault F1 sites used here with permission. Red Bull images photocredit: (c)GEPA Pictures/Red Bull Photofiles