ALONSO LEADS McLAREN 1-2 IN OPENING USGP PRACTICE INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 15, 2007 - Two-time defending Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso led practice June 15 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as teams began preparations for United...
ALONSO LEADS McLAREN 1-2 IN OPENING USGP PRACTICE
INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 15, 2007 - Two-time defending Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso led practice June 15 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as teams began preparations for United States Grand Prix qualifying and race.
Alonso, driving the No. 1 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes lapped the 13-turn, 2.605-mile road circuit in 1 minute, 11.925 seconds, 130.375 mph during the morning session.
Air and track temperatures soared to 90 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, by the start of the second practice session in the afternoon. The fastest lap of that session was 1:12.156, 129.957 by Alonso, who has finished the USGP only once in his five previous attempts, earning a fifth-place finish in 2006.
"It has been a very difficult race in the past for me here," Alonso said. "I never been competitive at Indianapolis, the car, the luck, whatever, myself, so today to be P1 is a little bit of surprise for me. I never was in the top at Indianapolis so I enjoyed a lot today. And if I can finish on the podium Sunday, it will be a fantastic surprise."
Alonso's McLaren teammate, rookie Lewis Hamilton, was second overall at 1:12.309, 129.683, Nick Heidfeld was third in the No. 9 BMW Sauber F1 Team entry at 1:12.391, 129.535, Felipe Massa was fourth in the No. 5 Scuderia Ferrari at 1:12.435, 129.457 and Massa's teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, was fifth at 1:12.587, 129.186.
Hamilton earned his first career Grand Prix victory June 10 at Montreal in just his sixth start. He wasted little time getting comfortable at Indianapolis.
"The other drivers here have been here, so they have plenty of experience on this circuit," Hamilton said. "To come here and be there your first day, to explore every position on the track is tough, so it's about finding the correct balance and the consistency.
"Going into tomorrow I'll look at the data again because after the P1, I was third, but I lost six or seven tenths in the middle sector, so I went away, found out where I was losing time, and I improved it. And so coming back tomorrow I'll be even quicker, for sure."
Scott Speed, of Manteca, Calif., was 18th overall with a top lap of 1:13.712, 127.214 in the No. 19 Scuderia Toro Rosso entry.
Qualifying starts at 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday, July 1, preceded by the third Formula One practice session at 10 a.m. The 73-lap United States Grand Prix race starts at 1 p.m. Sunday.
2007 USGP tickets: Reserved Race Day and three-day "Season Passes" for the 2007 United States Grand Prix, June 15-17, are on sale to all customers.
Ticket information can be found any time at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-4639 or (317) 492-6700. Ticket Office hours are from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.