Friday test: Renault sets the early pace

Renault's Fernando Alonso set the pace in a rain affected private test session ahead of the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours

Friday test: Renault sets the early pace

Alonso lapped in 1m16.709s before the rain came just over an hour into the session, three-tenths of a second quicker than Jaguar's Mark Webber. Jarno Trulli was third fastest, a further three-tenths down on the Australian's best mark.

It wasn't all good news for the Regie, however. Test driver Franck Montagny, making his debut on a grand prix weekend in place of Allan McNish, suffered a spectacular engine failure after just 40 minutes of the session.

Antonio Pizzonia was fourth fastest, but 1.2secs in arrears of Alonso's fastest time. The Brazilian was in attacking form this morning, locking up and overshooting the Adelaide hairpin on one lap, then sliding over the kerbs at the high-speed Imola kink on another.

Giancarlo Fisichella was fifth fastest for Jordan-Ford, just a matter of hundredths quicker than Montagny, who set a best lap of 1m18.823s before his problems. Ralf Firman was another casualty of the session when his Jordan ground to a halt after an hour, and he ended the session slowest of all. Both Firman and Montagny rejoined the session in their spare cars.

Minardi-Cosworth duo Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson were seventh and eighth, with the Dutchman holding a 0.4sec advantage over his British team-mate.

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