Practice 4: McLaren hits back

In the final free practice session before qualifying for the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, McLaren showed the potential of its new MP4-19B as Kimi Raikkonen topped the timesheets, ahead of BAR's Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher of Ferrari

Raikkonen's team-mate David Coulthard led the way early on before Schuey dipped into the 1m14s bracket to take top spot. Raikkonen then produced a 1m14.513s effort, that Schumacher failed to beat by 0.058secs on his next run.

Button then split them both with a 1m14.568s lap, good enough for second. His team-mate Takuma Sato was fourth fastest, but looked wild over the kerbs at the final chicane. Rubens Barrichello was fifth for Ferrari, ahead of the Toyotas of Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta. Coulthard slipped to eighth by the end of the session.

The Renault threat looks potent, if its drivers can keep it on the island. Both Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso set super-quick opening sectors, but threw it all away in the final third of the lap. Trulli outbraked himself at Chateau D'eau for the second time this morning, while Alonso saved his moment for the final chicane. They ended up ninth and 10th respectively.

Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella crashed out of the session when he whacked the kerbs at the final chicane too hard and apparently damaged the 'keel' under the nose of the car where the lower front suspension arms are attached to the chassis. Both front wheels rather drunkenly flopped around as the Sauber came to a halt just short of the tyrewall. Whether his car has sustained any chassis damage remains to be seen.

Minardi's Gianmaria Bruni didn't make the end of the session either, when his PS04B ground to a halt halfway through. Juan Pablo Montoya was slowest in his Williams, although the Colombian set some respectable sector times. His team-mate Marc Gene was 11th fastest.

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