World champions on target in opening hour at IMS
Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher started out the way they intend to go on in Indianapolis this morning, as they dominated the first practice session for the US Grand Prix.
The Brazilian had a trouble-free session to record 1m 11.354s, outside Schumachers 1m 10.790s record from qualifying in 2002 but close enough to suggest that will fall this afternoon.
Schumacher was also untroubled, apart from heading towards the oval tracks Turn Four when he overshot the road courses Turn One towards the end of the session. It was no big deal, and his 1m 11.619s remained sufficient to hold off Anthony Davidson, who lapped his BAR in 1m 11.693s on his first visit to the Brickyard.
BARs Jenson Button held fourth fastest time in 1m 12.553s for most of the session, until Williams Juan Pablo Montoya (1m 12.008s), Toyotas Ricardo Zonta (1m 12.366s) and Jaguars Bjorn Wirdheim (1m 12.424s) pipped him at the end.
Giancarlo Fisichella was also in good form for Sauber, with 1m 12.575s giving him eighth place ahead of the Toyota of Olivier Panis (1m 12.631s) and Ralf Schumacher (1m 12.850s) in the Williams.
Renault have yet to show their hand, with Fernando Alonso lapping in 1m 12.989s for 11th and Jarno Trulli spinning in Turn Nine on his way to 13th best 1m 13.351s. McLaren, too, have yet to give much away. Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard did not hurry out, and the Finns 1m 13.147s for enough for 12th. Coulthard ran wide in Turn Eight, and recorded 1m 13.916s which left him only 18th.
Felipe Massa took his newly built Sauber C23 to 1m 13.371s for 14th on his first acquaintance with the track, and Takuma Satos 1m 13.532s left him 15th for BAR. Cristiano da Matta was 16th (1m 13.555s) for Toyota, while at Jaguar Christian Kliens 1m 14.407s gave him 19th fastest time.
It was tight in the Jordan camp, with Timo Glock leading the way on 1m 15.017 from Nick Heidfeld on 1m 15.020s and the returned Giorgio Pantano on 1m 15.260s, especially as Bas Leinders inserted himself among them as fastest Minardi driver on 1m 15.028s. Gianmaria Bruni caused the session to be red flagged at one stage when his Minardi stopped in Turn Eight, but his 1m 15.468s was quicker than team mate Zsolt Baumgartners 1m 17.051s.