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Montoya fastest, Scott Speed surprises

June 17, 2005

West McLaren Mercedes' Juan Pablo Montoya led both free practice sessions June 17 as Formula One teams began preparations for qualifying and the race at the United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Montoya lapped the 13-turn, 2.605-mile road circuit in 1 minute, 11.118 seconds, 131.860 mph during the second session -- the top lap of the day. He also recorded the fastest lap of the first session, 1:12.027, 130.196.
"It just means that we're doing the right job, but what counts is on Sunday," Montoya said. "All this work, you just focus on what you're going to be doing on Sunday. And at the moment, things are looking pretty good. Both practices I was fastest today. It's encouraging. I think things are coming together."

Qualifying starts at 2 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The 73-lap race starts at 2 p.m. (EDT) Sunday.

Montoya's teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, recorded the second-quickest lap, 1:11.228, 131.657. 2002 USGP winner Rubens Barrichello was third at 1:11.746, 130.707 in a Scuderia Marlboro Ferrari, and three-time USGP winner Michael Schumacher was fourth at 1:11.758, 130.684 in a Ferrari. Williams-BMW driver Nick Heidfeld rounded out the top five at 1:11.825, 130.562.

American Scott Speed, participating as Red Bull Racing's third driver, recorded the eighth-best lap of the day at 1:12.143, 129.987 and completed a total of 55 laps.

Speed, who drives full-time in the European GP2 series - the premier development series for Formula One, became the first American since 1989 to participate in a United States Grand Prix.

"(I am) very happy," said Speed, 22, who is considered the top American prospect for a Formula One drive. "It was another successful run in the F1 car. All the experience I get right now is so valuable. Every lap that I am doing in the car I feel more comfortable and more confident.

"I think that it is all good for me. I am gaining a lot of F1 experience to where when it comes time that I do have to qualify and race and there's a lot more pressure, I will be able to perform better."

Drivers struggled for grip throughout the day as several cars slid off track during both sessions. The most serious incident of the day occurred early in the second session when Ralf Schumacher's Panasonic Toyota did 1½ spins in Turn 13 and hit the SAFER Barrier in the outside of the turn with the rear of the car and left side of the car. Schumacher was uninjured in the accident.

Team-by-team

Toyota: A case of unhappy déjà vu for Ralf Schumacher, after a tyre problem sent him into the same wall that broke his back at Indianapolis last year. The German, who walked away, was sent to hospital for a check up. Moments earlier, Ricardo Zonta had a similar problem and found the wall at turn five, and - repaired - returned to the track but, along with Jarno Trulli, was called back in with a third cut tyre. ''Lightening is not meant to strike twice,'' said Ralf. ''Thankfully I feel okay.'' Schumacher's engine will not need to be changed.

Jordan: ''The track is not very challenging,'' said Tiago Monteiro (last place), ''and I am not very impressed with it.'' Narain Karthikeyan was also behind both Minardis, while Robert Doornbos returned to the 'Friday' role.

Renault: An unspectacular day for the championship leading team. ''Some of the oversteer came from the track,'' said Fernando Alonso (9th), ''but we still have to get the car right.'' Giancarlo Fisichella (11th) added: ''Our level of performance did not seem fantastic.''

Williams: ''My lap times don't seem too bad,'' said Nick Heidfeld, Grove's quickest runner (fifth). Mark Webber drudged around for thirteenth. ''We know we have some work to do,'' he admitted.

Minardi: ''Despite the new regulations,'' said Paul Stoddart, ''both our cars exceeded ... any time (set) by a Minardi here last year.''

McLaren: Juan Pablo Montoya was Friday's fastest at Indy, but he doesn't think much of the Michelin tyre. ''It feels terrible,'' said the Colombian, ''but at least we're fastest.'' Also quick is Kimi Raikkonen (2nd), despite an off at turn 11, while third man Pedro de la Rosa stopped with a throttle problem.

Sauber: Felipe Massa (12th) spun twice, but still managed to outpace Jacques Villeneuve (17th) by more than half a second. ''The track is always a bit funny here the first day,'' said the latter, a Canadian. ''The car was very twitchy,'' said 24-year-old Massa.

Ferrari: The red cars, with Rubens Barrichello just in front of Michael Schumacher, were - after McLaren - second quickest around Indianapolis. ''We've always gone well here,'' said Jean Todt. Barrichello said: ''We look much more competitive than recently.''

BAR: ''The pace isn't very good,'' said Jenson Button, who finished the day with the T-car's gearbox and fifteenth. Takuma Sato is 16th.

Red Bull: David Coulthard, with a new Cosworth engine, had a mixed day in the 'States -- a spin, a gearbox glitch, and the sixth quickest time. ''We could be more competitive than in Canada,'' he said. Probably truer to the real pace is Christian Klien (14th), while local boy Scott Speed (8th) enjoyed himself. ''It's so great driving in America,'' he said, ''in a Formula One car.''

QUOTES

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (#10 West McLaren Mercedes): "The tire tread was pretty bad. I think everybody is probably complaining about the same thing. It feels terrible, but you know, it feels terrible and we're fastest. I don't know how everybody else is, but I am looking pretty strong for the weekend. We'll have to wait and see." (Is it hard to drive on track?): "Hard to drive on it? No, it's just not good. You slide around a lot. It's pretty straightforward. It's just the lack of grip is pretty bad." (Goal for today): "Like every session, look at the tires, balance the car and things like that." (About coming to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "It's nice. Every year, I've come so close to winning this race, and something has always gone wrong. So it would be nice to come here once and get a pretty quiet weekend and a good result. This year has been a bit of a struggle. I've been very unlucky. Everything that can go wrong has been going wrong. If we could come out of here with a nice party for the guys would be amazing." (Does quick time mean anything today?): "Today? No, it just means that we're doing the right job, but what counts is on Sunday. All this work, you just focus on what you're going to be doing on Sunday. And at the moment, things are looking pretty good. Both practices I was fastest today. It's encouraging. I think things are coming together."

KIMI RAIKKONEN (#9 West McLaren Mercedes): (About the session today): "It's going all right. I had a small problem with the car. The clutch wasn't working, but otherwise it was all right. It still goes quite quickly, so that's the main thing. We had a small problem with the clutch, but we can easily fix it for tomorrow." (Second time you are using the engine, is that a problem?) "No, it should be OK. The engine is strong. I don't see any problem." (About both cars being at the top of the charts today): "Of course, it's good, but it's only the first day. So we need to wait and see. It looks pretty good for us right now. But hopefully tomorrow, we'll be right up there." (Does being at the top of the charts give you an indication of how you'll do here?): "Definitely. It gives you some kind of idea. But tomorrow is the main thing, qualifying, then we'll see how it goes."

FERNANDO ALONSO (#5 Mild Seven Renault F1 Team): "It was good. Obviously, a very slippery track on the first day here at Indianapolis. I feel confident for tomorrow. We followed the program. We tested tires, which was the main priority today for Friday. I'm confident for tomorrow's qualifying."

SCOTT SPEED (#37 Red Bull Racing): "(I am) very happy. It was another successful run in the F1 car. All the experience I get right now is so valuable. Every lap that I am doing in the car I feel more comfortable and more confident." (About how he helps the team): "I think we made a good decision with tire choice. My job is not too complicated. It is relatively easy and not too much pressure, so it's great to be here." (About driving in America): "The coolest thing was seeing the flag out that said, "Go Speed," or whatever. "Good Luck, Scott" or something, I don't remember what it said. It reminds me of where I'm at and how far I've come." (About this being his last day of practice): "I think that it is all good for me. I am gaining a lot of F1 experience to where when it comes time that I do have to qualify and race and there's a lot more pressure I will be able to perform better."

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (#1 Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro): (About being more relaxed here): "I guess even though there are European races, you can see for yourself . no doubt America is a nice country for me." (About the season): "There are occasions which make us competitive, and others that don't make us competitive. I would say here it looks more good for us than elsewhere." (About the racing): "I always enjoy when I can fight for the lead, but I always enjoy other races where I don't. Generally, I enjoy wherever I am as long as I have touch with the front."

RUBENS BARRICHELLO (#2 Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro): (About his luck here): "First of all, I'm a lucky guy just to be back here and racing such a race. There are not just Americans but also Brazilians who come to see the race. For me, it's a good motivation. Secondly, the car suits the track very well, and it's great to be back." (About coming from the back in Canada): "I have a feeling that it doesn't matter when things aren't going right.I work for them and make them come your way. The most important thing is to be ready whenever the car is ready. In Canada, the car wasn't ready in qualifying, but I had to be ready on Sunday morning. The whole season's going to be like that. I hope we can find even more pace for us to be fighting for something more toward the end of the season." (About rules, etc.): "It's going to be a difficult season for everyone. The new rules brought something really strange to the championship. To make it last, a whole set of tires, it's a big deal. There'll be times we start on pole and times we start ninth. We just have to keep smiling and working."

MARK WEBBER (#7 BMW WilliamsF1 Team): "We did a lot of setup work today. We tried a few different things across cars just to work on setup. We've got some work to do tonight. We'll go through the tire comparison. The car is running reliable. We have some more improvements to do on the balance."

JENSON BUTTON (#3 Lucky Strike BAR Honda): "The good thing is we did our comparisons for the tires and did our normal program for a Friday. The pace isn't very good. We're struggling for grip a little bit. We have a busy night ahead of it. We know where some of it is coming from. We just need to hope we can get the problems sorted out and get a bit more back on the pace, and I think we can." (Did Toyota's problems affect your testing?): "No, because we have a lot of information from the session, and I'm sure there will be a lot of discussion with both manufacturers and all the teams (about tire selection). We don't want that to happen again." (Is tire selection going to be an issue at Indianapolis?): "It's difficult here because we can't find a huge difference between the tires at the moment. It's going to be difficult to make a decision. But, yeah, we'll have a lot of information this evening from Michelin on the wear of the tires, and we'll know a little bit more."

TAKUMA SATO (#4 Lucky Strike BAR Honda): "It's great to be back at Indy, as we have great memories of last year. Today wasn't perfect for us. We need to do a lot of work for the weekend. It's only the first day, and we did complete the program for both cars and the tire comparison. I'm relatively happy, but we need to work on the speed."

JACQUES VILLENEUVE (#11 Sauber Petronas): "It was OK. We concentrated on the tires, which is always the thing to do on Friday. Both cars were on different programs. So we can choose what tires to take for tomorrow. The long runs were good. Definitely we'll take the other tire for tomorrow."

CHRISTIAN KLIEN (#15 Red Bull Racing): "The car was not as good as I wished it would be. The car was quite oversteered to drive. No grip at the moment. We have a lot to do on the setup to get it better. We tried a new engine, and that's maybe a step forward. It looks quite promising and a lot better than in Canada."

DAVID COULTHARD (#14 Red Bull Racing): "We appear to have a problem with selecting sixth gear. I was able to finish my timed lap, but the car was starting to shutter through the banking, which is never a good feeling when you're not sure what it is. They are checking out the gearbox now." (About running off track): "It was an electronic issue. Basically, the software had a fault, which meant I had none of the normal electronic assistance to answer the problem. What you saw there was a pure mechanic car relying on old-school technology like what they used to have in the 1970s in Formula One. Nowadays, we have all sorts of exotic toys, electronic-this and what have you." (About tires): "The precaution instructed all of the Michelin runners to increase their minimum pressure, because for us that's always an issue on the banking."

FELIPE MASSA (#12 Sauber Petronas): "It was really OK. It was not too bad; I mean, I think I had a reasonable lap time. My car, we still need to improve in the long-run because it was really oversteer. It was not easy to get the right base for the long runs. So we are working on that, and I hope tomorrow, even, the track will improve a bit. So I'm looking forward. I think it was OK. For the first day, I think it was fine."

TIAGO MONTEIRO (#18 Jordan Grand Prix): "All right. Nothing amazing. Struggling to find some grip here. The track is not very 'grippy' generally, so we don't seem to have a perfect setup here. We need to work on that. We still have a hour and a half tomorrow." (About the track): "There's nothing interesting in it. I thought the oval was going to be challenging, but it's easy flat. We have too much downforce, obviously. I'm really disappointed."

NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN (#19 Jordan Grand Prix): "It was pretty OK. We tried to get some changes on the car, and we have to see on the data if it works or not. The track is so slippery off line, and it's my first time here, so it's kind of hard."

CHRISTIJAN ALBERS (#21 Minardi F1 Team): (About practice): "I think it was quite OK. Typical venue, tire run. Not really a big problem. Not really any problem or disasters, so we'll see tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day. We'll have to see. It's always difficult here from what I've noticed from the past, from the team. This is the first time for me here so at this moment, I think we're OK." (About facility): "I think it's quite nice. It's something different, of course. The Formula One cars driving on a banking, so it's quite interesting."

PATRICK FRIESACHER (#20 Minardi F1 Team): "It was not too bad. Just in the second session, we lost a little bit of time because I had a problem with the gearbox. The fourth gear was broken. So we changed it really quickly and got back into the car again and, generally, it was not to bad. We were in front of the Jordans and two-tenths quicker than my teammate, who is seeing what I can do and look for it, so it's OK for tomorrow. We have to go analyze the data and find out exactly which tires we're going to use tomorrow; soft or hard. But I'm quite confident. Also the gap between us and the other teams is not so big, like on other racetracks." (About facility): "It's quite good. One turn is really quick, and the infield is really slow. It's a good mixture.

NICK HEIDFELD (#8 BMW WilliamsF1 Team): "We went quite good today and finished fifth in the end. In the morning, the lap times were OK despite me not being happy with the car balance. My feeling on tomorrow is that we should be in better shape than in Canada. I like this circuit. I don't know why, but in the past I've always seemed to be quite quick here, and again today I think was quite good."

POS DRIVER ENTRANT TIRE TIME
1. JUAN PABLO MONTOYA McLaren-Mercedes M 1:11.118
2. KIMI RAIKKONEN McLaren-Mercedes M 1:11.228
3. RUBENS BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1:11.746
4. MICHAEL SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1:11.758
5. NICK HEIDFELD Williams-BMW M 1:11.825
6. DAVID COULTHARD Red Bull-Cosworth M 1:12.076
7. PEDRO DE LA ROSA McLaren-Mercedes M 1:12.119
8. SCOTT SPEED Red Bull Racing M 1:12.143
9. FERNANDO ALONSO Renault M 1:12.265
10. JARNO TRULLI Toyota M 1:12.344
11. GIANCARLO FISICHELLA Renault M 1:12.384
12. FELIPE MASSA Sauber-Petronas M 1:12.464
13. MARK WEBBER Williams-BMW M 1:12.578
14. CHRISTIAN KLIEN Red Bull-Cosworth M 1:12.664
15. JENSON BUTTON BAR-Honda M 1:12.803
16. TAKUMA SATO BAR-Honda M 1:13.037
17. JACQUES VILLENEUVE Sauber-Petronas M 1:13.079
18. ROBERT DOORNBOS Jordan-Toyota B 1:13.361
19. RICARDO ZONTA Toyota M 1:13.567
20. PATRICK FRIESACHER Minardi-Cosworth B 1:13.783
21. CHRISTIJAN ALBERS Minardi-Cosworth B 1:13.963
22. NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN Jordan-Toyota B 1:14.008
23. TIAGO MONTEIRO Jordan-Toyota B 1:14.336
24. RALF SCHUMACHER Toyota M No Time

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