Juan Pablo Montoya set the pace in the first Friday practice session for the US Grand Prix, clocking a best of 1:12.027. The McLaren man was less than a tenth quicker than Toyota third driver Ricardo Zonta and the Renault of Fernando Alonso was ...
Juan Pablo Montoya set the pace in the first Friday practice session for the US Grand Prix, clocking a best of 1:12.027. The McLaren man was less than a tenth quicker than Toyota third driver Ricardo Zonta and the Renault of Fernando Alonso was third. It was a quiet start to the Indianapolis weekend, although there were one or two off-track excursions but nothing serious.
Jordan third driver Robert Doornbos led out for the installation laps, along with Red Bull, McLaren and Toyota counterparts Scott Speed, Pedro de la Rosa and Zonta. The Minardis of Patrick Friesacher and Christijan Albers were also quickly out, as well as Montoya, the Sauber of Jacques Villeneuve and the two Jordan race drivers, Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan.
The Red Bulls of Christian Klien and David Coulthard joined the track activity shortly afterwards, followed by BAR's Takuma Sato, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonenn and the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello. After ten minutes de la Rosa was the first to put up a time, 1:12.913, and Speed slotted in behind, over two seconds off.
The BAR of Jenson Button and the Sauber of Felipe Massa briefly appeared, as did the Renaults of Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella, but they only stayed out for a lap before ducking back in. De la Rosa's progress was abruptly cut short when he came to a halt in the first sector on his next lap with a possible mechanical or electronic problem. Doornbos went third quickest, a couple of seconds down on Speed.
Ralf Schumacher wheeled his Toyota out for a couple of laps but didn't set a flyer at the time, and Monterio made it four on the time sheet in fourth. Zonta took second, half a second down on de la Rosa, and Monteiro moved ahead of teammate Doornbos, back to fourth after being demoted by Zonta. Friesacher joined in sixth, and Karthikeyan in seventh, and after half an hour de la Rosa's time was still holding steady at the top.
Karthikeyan improved to fifth then there was a lull in the activity as nobody seemed inclined to do a great deal. Jarno Trulli's Toyota popped out for a lap then went back in and Zonta improved his time but stayed second. Albers finally clocked a time to join in eighth and Michael Schumacher put his Ferrari second on his first flyer. Sato took fourth and the Williams of Nick Heidfeld fifth as things started moving again.
The Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello posted ninth on his initial flyer and the second Williams of Mark Webber slotted into seventh. Button clocked third to start with and Fisichella went one better for second, a tenth off de la Rosa. He was demoted by teammate Alonso, the Spaniard closing the gap to the lead McLaren to five hundredths. Barrichello improved marginally to eighth and Speed went up to 11th after being demoted.
Zonta, who had also been shuffled down the order, finally ousted de la Rosa from the top spot with a 1:12.085, over eight tenths up. The track condition had evidently improved, which encouraged others to come out and put in some laps in the last ten minutes. Montoya took the top spot by just six hundredths, 1:12.027, and Ralf moved into the top ten with ninth, while Villeneuve appeared in 17th and Klein in 15th.
Coulthard took 11th and Alono went up one to third after being dropped down slightly. Felipe Massa put his Sauber 18th on his first effort, while Villeneuve improved to 15th, and Heidfeld shot up to fourth. Trulli clocked 14th and Webber climbed back up to eighth but Raikkonen was not yet on the time sheet after sliding off into the gravel. He managed to rescue the McLaren and skulked back to the pits.
Trulli went up one more spot to 13th but that was pretty much the end of the session. As usual on a Friday morning there's no real conclusions to be drawn from the first hour on-track -- quite a few drivers did less than ten laps and Raikkonen didn't set a time. We should get a better picture after this afternoon. Final top eight classification: Montoya, Zonta, Alonso, Heidfeld, Button, de la Rosa, Sato, Fisichella.