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Friday practice review - Trulli stays ahead 26 Sep 2003

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Indianapolis, USA, 25 September 2003

Rain came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this morning, against forecasts, but still Jarno Trulli and Renault reigned supreme.

The track was dry initially, but after a few minutes Giancarlo Fisichella was again in trouble as his Jordan blew its engine as he sped through the final corner. The session was red-flagged as his car was towed away and the ensuing oil cleaned off the racing line.

Shortly after running resumed it began to rain, heavily enough for extreme wet-weather tyres to be permitted.

Trulli made the most of his two hours of running in private practice, but was a little slower than he had been then with 1m 11.153s. This edged out Ralf Schumacher's Williams on 1m 11.339s and Olivier Panis's Toyota (1m 11.388s). This was something of a surprise as most had expected Bridgestone to have a clear advantage in such conditions. The Ferraris of Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher were fourth and fifth, on 1m 11.499s and 1m 11.656s respectively, but it is important to remember that Friday morning times are often misleading as teams can be running differing fuel loads and trying different set-ups. This afternoon's low-fuel qualifying should give a more reliable indication of form.

Five other drivers lapped below 1m 12s: Fernando Alonso (1m 11.692s), Mark Webber (1m 11.794s), Juan Pablo Montoya (1m 11.842s), Kimi Raikkonen (1m 11.876s) and David Coulthard (1m 11.967s). That gave Michelin further cause for optimism.

Cristiano da Matta was 11th on 1m 12.084s ahead of Jenson Button, the third fastest Bridgestone runner on 1m 12.331s for BAR. Justin Wilson was next on 1m 12.387s for Jaguar, and Jacques Villeneuve managed 1m 12.656s in the second BAR 005. Before his engine broke Fisichella was able to lap his Jordan in 1m 12.849s, but the team had a bad morning as Ralph Firman also stopped on the track after a lap of 1m 13.167s, which left him right behind his team mate.

Nicolas Kiesa had his best run so far for Minardi to lap in 1m 13.537s, which offset a problematic day for Jos Verstappen that left the Dutchman last on 1m 18.255s. Sandwiched between them were the unhappy Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Heinz-Harald Frentzen on 1m 13.601s and 1m 13.881s respectively.

As these words are written just after the session, the track is drying out quickly, but the skies still look forbidding so qualifying should be very interesting if there are sporadic rain showers.

Click here for the practice results in full.