US GP: Honda Friday notes

TWO HONDA-POWERED DRIVERS IN TOP TEN B.A.R Honda driver goes fifth fastest in United States Free Practice Jacques Villeneuve (Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda) finished fifth to head the Honda-powered foursome in today's free practice session for the ...

B.A.R Honda driver goes fifth fastest in United States Free Practice

Jacques Villeneuve (Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda) finished fifth to head the Honda-powered foursome in today's free practice session for the United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. DHL Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato finished in seventh and 17th places respectively while Olivier Panis (B.A.R Honda) recorded 18th position.

The world-renowned Motor Speedway, located 8km north-west of Indianapolis, was originally built as a test track for the Detroit motor industry in the early 19th century, becoming a motorsport venue soon afterwards. The famed race track is the home of the legendary Indy 500 race and this year marks the third time a Formula One Grand Prix has been held here, since the purpose-built infield circuit was opened in 2000.

The Formula One cars run clockwise around the 'Brickyard', the opposite direction to usual at the track and with 250,000 permanent grandstand seats available the event promises one of the biggest crowds of the F1 season. The race also sees the use of the SAFER barrier system for the first time in Formula One, which is designed to absorb energy in the event of an incident.

The drivers were greeted by overcast conditions at the Indianapolis circuit this morning after heavy rain fell overnight, but by the start of the first session the track was almost completely dry and the ambient temperature had reached 20 degrees with 82% humidity. Both free practice sessions were characterised by a series of spins as many drivers struggled with the changeable track conditions.

B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve covered a total of 40 laps of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, finishing in fifth position overall with a best time of 1m15.035s, an improvement of almost a second and a half on his best time of the first session.

The Jordan Honda duo of Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato completed 68 laps between them. Fisichella had a trouble-free session, setting a best time of 1m15.209s and finishing in seventh place overall while Sato finished in 17th place with a best lap of 1m15.659s. The Japanese driver lost a lot of time during the second session when he spun off onto the wet grass but he still managed to top the speed trap times. He was closely followed by all of his Honda-powered colleagues, who joined him in the top five.

B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis suffered a torrid session as he struggled with oversteer. The Frenchman completed 19 laps in the morning and a further 15 in the afternoon, setting a best lap of 1m15.941s, putting him in 18th place overall.

Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) finished in first place in today's free practice, followed by Jaguar's Eddie Irvine and the McLaren pairing of David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen. B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve and Sauber's Heinz Harald Frentzen set the fifth and sixth fastest times.

Shuhei Nakamoto - Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development

"Not a bad day considering the fact that we can't test here and the track conditions kept changing throughout the sessions. Two of the Honda-powered drivers are in the top ten and all four drivers will be using a higher spec engine tomorrow, so I'm fairly optimistic that we'll achieve good grid positions."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 5th

"We got off to quite a slow start today because the track was still drying at the beginning of the session. The infield section here is hardly used so the asphalt is always very slippery. We were struggling to find rear grip throughout the session but we did quite a few runs to try different things and basically just worked through the problem. I managed to get one good lap on new tyres before it got too slippery. Last year's race wasn't very good for us so I'm pleased we've got off to a good start today. During the last few races we've frequently been the best of the Bridgestone runners after Ferrari and our qualifying has been improving so let's hope we can carry today's progress through to the race on Sunday."

Giancarlo Fisichella Position: 7th

"It's been quite a good day. We've done a lot of work for the race with fairly high fuel loads so I'm pleased to be 7th quickest and I'm quite confident about tomorrow. I know it's going to be tough because the gap between me and other people is tight but I think it is possible to be in the top ten."

Takuma Sato Position: 17th

"The car set-up was very competitive straight away this morning which was good. I was hammering down the historical Indianapolis circuit immediately! It is fun to drive, especially the banking section, but in a Formula One car there's not much to that because it's really just a straight. There are some interesting corners in the infield, which I think are good to drive, and they suit our car. It was a shame that I couldn't complete the second session but tomorrow will hopefully be a much better day."

Olivier Panis Position: 18th

"During both sessions I suffered from massive oversteer. We tried to find different solutions but nothing seemed to work. I think we will have to strip the car down completely in order to see if we don't have a more fundamental problem that we cannot see on the data. I think there is a lot of work to be done this afternoon."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Kimi Raikkonen , Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Jordan