Renault Quick Again As Piquet Rules In Final Practice

Edward QuinnCorrespondent IJune 20, 2008

Before qualifying for the French Grand Prix, Renault have torn up the form book again as one of their cars was again fastest in final practice. But whilst it had been Fernando Alonso in second practice, today it was Nelson Piquet who set the pace.

Piquet clocked a time of 1 minute 15.750 seconds in an intensely close practice session where 1st place to 18th place, Nick Hiedfeld's BMW, was seperated by only 1 second.

It was a morning for the "lesser" teams of Formula 1 to shine, with Mark Webber's Red Bull setting a time of 1 minute 15.759 seconds to end up second, only 0.009 seconds slower than Piquet.

Sebastian Vettel showed a good turn of pace by setting the third fastest time, ahead of Nico Rosberg's ever improving Williams in fourth.

The first of the big guns was Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari in fifth place, with a time of 1 minute 16.003 seconds, 0.4 seconds slower than Piquet's Renault

Lewis Hamilton, who has to take a 10 place grid penalty, ended up 7th with a time of 1 minute 16.182 seconds, with the Toyota of Jarno Trulli sandwiched between him and the Finnish world champion.

Fernando Alonso ended up twelth, 0.7 seconds slower than team-mate Piquet, just ahead of Heikki Kovalainen, with Ferrari's Felipe Massa ending up ninth.

The BMW's have struggled this weekend and it really showed in final practice. World championship leader Kubica ended up 14th in final pactice, with team-mate Hiedfeld in 18th.

So, a few conclusions to make. Renault have a great turn of pace here, BMW are struggling, Sebastian Vettel is ever-improving and the McLarens are also finding it hard.

With unpredictable practice results like this, and 10 place grid penalties for Hamilton and Rosberg, the grid for the race today could throw up a few surprises!

Final practice times for the French Grand Prix:

1. Nelson Piquet (Brazil) Renault 1:15.750

2. Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull - Renault 1:15.759

3. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 1:15.827

4. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Williams - Toyota 1:15.974

5. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1:16.003

6. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota 1:16.147

7. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1:16.182

8. Sebastien Bourdais (France) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 1:16.235

9. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1:16.256

10. David Coulthard (Britain) RedBull - Renault 1:16.282

11. Timo Glock (Germany) Toyota 1:16.344

12. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault 1:16.437

13. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) McLaren 1:16.545

14. Robert Kubica (Poland) BMW Sauber 1:16.617

15. Kazuki Nakajima (Japan) Williams - Toyota 1:16.644

16. Jenson Button (Britain) Honda 1:16.651

17. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Honda 1:16.658

18. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) BMW Sauber 1:16.687

19. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Force India - Ferrari 1:17.365

20. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India - Ferrari 1:17.612