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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 07:32 GMT 08:32 UK
Rivals neck and neck in practice
Chinese Grand Prix, Sunday, 1 October 0700 BST

Michael Schumacher
Schumacher was less than a tenth faster than Alonso
World title rivals Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher were evenly matched in practice for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Schumacher was the second fastest race driver behind Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in Friday practice; Renault's Alonso was just 0.098 seconds behind.

World champion Alonso, who has not won since June, is two points clear of Schumacher with three races left.

Three test drivers led the times on Friday's second session, with Williams' Alexander Wurz fastest of all.

Schumacher has not scored a point in his two previous appearances in Shanghai.

And Ferrari's hopes were dealt a blow when Massa needed an engine change, for which the penalty is a demotion of 10 places on the grid.

Fernando Alonso
I am very confident, as always

Fernando Alonso
Alonso, winner in China last year, has a new and more powerful engine after a failure while he was heading for third place in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza three weeks ago.

"I am very confident, as always," the Spaniard said. "I think that for the last three races we should be very competitive.

"The car is really at maximum performance now, with no problems. We should be very quick. Now it is up to us and Ferrari to decide who is quickest."

Alonso sat out the first session and set his fastest time early in the second.

He went out again towards the end but was not close to the pace of the Ferraris and spun his car just before the end of the session as light rain started to fall.

"We had to adjust our programme a little bit because of the rain in the afternoon session," the Spaniard said, "but we have a good baseline to work from with the car.

"It felt comfortable to drive straight away, so while we need to fine-tune things overnight, I am quite happy at the moment.

"This is a track I always enjoy, especially with the good memories from the championship win last year, and even with the V8 engines and the other changes since 2005, it still felt very good to drive today.

"I think we need to be a bit cautious analysing the times, because the conditions on Friday are quite different to what we expect for the race."


Second practice times at Chinese Grand Prix (* denotes test driver ineligible to race):

1 Alexander Wurz* (Aut) Williams-Cosworth one minute 35.539 seconds
2. Sebastian Vettel* (Ger) BMW Sauber 1:35.579
3. Anthony Davidson* (GB) Honda 1:35.714
4. Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 1:36.599
5. Michael Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari1:36.641
6. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault 1:36.739
7. Franck Montagny* (Fra) Super Aguri-Honda 1:37.278
8. Michael Ammermuller* (Ger) Red Bull-Ferrari 1:37.678
9. Tiago Monteiro (Por) Midland-Toyota 1:37.698
10. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Renault 1:37.718
11. Jenson Button (GB) Honda 1:37.861
12. Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.022
13. Mark Webber (Aus) Williams-Cosworth 1:38.045
14. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber 1:38.062
15. Alexandre Premat (Fra) Midland-Toyota 1:38.098
16. Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda 1:38.276
17. Ralf Schumacher (Ger) Toyota 1:38.888
18. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 1:38.959
19. Scott Speed (USA) Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1:39.080
20. Neel Jani (Swi) Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1:39.118
21. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.179
22. Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 1:39.217
23. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Cosworth 1:39.522
24. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1:39.570
25. Sakon Yamamoto (Jpn) Super Aguri-Honda 1:39.636
26. David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Ferrari 1:40.155
27. Robert Doornbos (Ned) Red Bull-Ferrari 1:40.214
28. Christijan Albers (Ned) Midland-Toyota 1:40.319
29. Takuma Sato (Jpn) Super Aguri-Honda 1:41.315

Leading first free practice times (* denotes test driver):

1. Wurz* one minute 35.574 seconds
2. Davidson* 1:35.591
3. Button 1:37.291
4. M Schumacher 1:37.712
5. Jani* 1:37.734
6. Premat* 1:37.787
7. Vettel* 1:37.913
8. Kubica 1:38.062
9. Ammermuller* 1:38.460
10. Montagny* 1:38.464
11. Liuzzi 1:39.000
12. Barrichello 1:39.217
13. Speed 1:39.428
14. Albers 1:39.494
15. Sato 1:39.887
16. Monteiro 1:39.947
17. Yamamoto 1:41.415
18. Raikkonen 1:45.890
19. Heidfeld no time
20. Trulli no time
21. R Schumacher no time
22. Coulthard no time
23. Doornbos no time
24. Alonso no time 25. Fisichella no time
26. De la Rosa no time
27. Massa no time
28. Webber no time
29. Rosberg no time



SEE ALSO
Alonso tries to curb Monza anger
28 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Schumi has China flaw - Renault
25 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Alonso furore prompts F1 U-turn
15 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Alonso launches Schumacher attack
12 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Briatore backtracks on fix slur
11 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Ferrari bullish for final F1 push
11 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Alonso defiant despite title blow
10 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Schumacher win boosts title hopes
10 Sep 06 |  Formula One


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