McLaren on top at US GP Friday

The McLaren boys, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen were the class of the field in Friday afternoon practice for the US Grand Prix. Montoya was quickest with a lap of 1:11.118 while Raikkonen fell just 0.110 seconds behind at 1:11.228 over...

The McLaren boys, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen were the class of the field in Friday afternoon practice for the US Grand Prix. Montoya was quickest with a lap of 1:11.118 while Raikkonen fell just 0.110 seconds behind at 1:11.228 over the 2.605-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

"It doesn't mean anything," shrugged Montoya, who was quick to complain about his Michelin tire tread and the challenge of making the correct compound choice. "I don't know how everybody else is, but I am looking pretty strong for the weekend. We'll just have to wait and see," the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner said.

Raikkonen, second to Fernando Alonso in the point chase found the afternoon conditions "rather slippery, so you really had to focus and concentrate to avoid being caught out.

The practice was elongated by a 21-minute red flag when Ralf Schumacher hit the elongated SAFER barrier in the final turn - a similar altercation to last year when he impacted the very area during the race - but the younger Schumacher brother was able to walk away with no apparent injury to his body. His Toyota, on the other hand, was relieved of all four corners.

Schumacher was transported to Methodist Hospital for further evaluation. The FIA medical staff will evaluate his condition tomorrow morning at the track and determine his ability to drive in Sunday's race.

Rubens Barrichello took third at 1:11.746 ahead of Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher (1:11.758)- after both had off-course excursions - yet both were pleased with their practice sessions. "It has been a long time since we have had such a good Friday," remarked Barrichello, who held pole here last year. Schumacher was "able to cure a balance problem I had early in the morning session.

Nick Heidfeld claimed fifth place in the Williams BMW and was "reasonably happy with today's practice. As usual I did some long runs in the afternoon, mainly to sort out the tires; so far so good," he said.

David Coulthard earned sixth with his Red Bull machine despite a problem selecting sixth year. "I was able to finish my timed lap but the car was starting to shudder through the banking, which is never a good feeling."

McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa set an early seventh best speed. Despite a problem this morning with the throttle pedal sensor, de la Rosa was able to get "some useful data about the tire this afternoon which should allow us to make the right choice."

Speaking of Speed, Scott Speed was eighth quick with the third Red Bull car after being given a "performance run" on new tires by team manager Christian Horner late in the going. The 22-year-old from Manteca, CA found the car well balanced and was "very happy with another successful run. All the experience I get right now is so valuable and every lap in the car I feel more comfortable and confident."

Fernando Alonso's Renault was ninth, the Spaniard finding the circuit quite slippery. "The car had a lot of oversteer all the way through both sessions so we will have some work to do on the setup to get things right."

Jarno Trulli rounded out the top ten with the second Toyota. Giancarlo Fisichella took 11th with the second Renault complaining of a loose car. Felipe Massa was 12th and he, too, said his car had quite an oversteer. Mark Webber's 13th was none to his liking but the Australian explained, "We completed the tire comparison and the car ran reliably throughout."

Christian Klien was 14th in the third Red Bull car: "The car was not as good as I wished it would be,' suffering from oversteer. Jenson Button reversed his good fortune of last weekend in Canada with 15th in afternoon practice and did some tire comparison with the BAR Honda, "our normal program for a Friday." Teammate Takuma Sato was right behind him in 16th place and noted, "Today wasn't perfect for us."

Jacques Villeneuve landed in 17th with the second Sauber, concentrating on tire selection and "on different programs" from teammate Massa. Third driver Robert Doornbos beat our the regular Jordan pilots in 18th; Ricardo Zonta took 19th in the third Toyota; Patrick Friesacher was 20th in the first of the Minardi cars, followed by teammate Christian Albers in 21st. Narain Karthikeyan was 22nd, teammate Tiago Monteiro took 23rd and Ralf Schumacher retained the bottom rung on the speed chart having turned only two practice laps this afternoon.

Qualifying is set for 1-2PM tomorrow EST to set the grid for Sunday's 73- lap race.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan