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Raikkonen quickest as the farce continues

NEWS STORY
18/06/2005

Ahead of today's second free practice session, the air temperature is 22 degrees C, while the track temperature is 41 degrees.

In the first session, only two Michelin runners completed full laps of the Indy F1 circuit - Montoya and Coulthard - while the rest, on the advice of Michelin, restricted their testing to the infield section, missing out the main straight and the banked corner.

The lights go green, but - surprise, surprise - nobody seems too keen to take to the track.

Finally, after around four minutes, Kimi Raikkonen leaves the McLaren garage.

As the Finn continues round to (hopefully) complete a lap, Christijan albers leaves the Minardi garage.

As in session one, Raikkonen fails to complete a full lap, instead he drives through the pits. Although we are fully aware of the safety implications, this is farcical and is unlikely to be popular with race fans - particularly those in the main, pit straight, grandstand.

Ricardo Zonta is on track, as is Michael Schumacher, Takuma Sato and Jenson Button.

Albers posts the first time of the session, crossing the line at 1:14.891.

Moments later however, Zonta goes quickest, the Brazilian posting 1:11.760, as Michael goes second (11.857).

We hear that Michelin has given approval for its drivers to complete a maximum of 10 laps.

Barrichello goes third (12.618) ahead of Albers and Friesacher. The Michelin runners continue to run through the pits. Thanks God this isn't at Monaco!

Juan Pablo Montoya goes sixth (17.637) but immediately goes quickest in the first sector. The Colombian crosses the line at 1:11.574 to go quickest.

Fisichella goes quickest in the first sector, as Monteiro improves to fifth (14.006). The Italian goes quickest, crossing the line at 1:11.375, as teammate Alonso goes quickest in the first sector.

Trulli goes second (11.457) as Alonso makes it a Renault 1-2, crossing the line at 1:10.920.

Heidfeld posts 1:12.186 to go seventh, splitting the Ferraris. Moments later however, Barrichello retakes seventh from the German, posting a 1:11.917, as Michael goes fifth with a 1:11.597.

Kimi Raikkonen goes quickest in the second sector, then again in the third, crossing the line at 1:10.643 to go quickest, and thereby post the quickest lap of the weekend, thus far.

With 22 minutes remaining, the only driver that hasn't yet appeared is David Coulthard.

Jenson Button goes second with a 1:10.844.

It appears that those drivers that opt to use a fresh set of tyres may do ten fast laps. After the session these tyres will be subjected to an extensive examination. Those who use old tyres, have to continue the missing the fast straight and drive through the pits.

The order at this point - with 17 minutes remaining - is: Raikkonen, Button, Alonso, Sato, Fisichella, Trulli, Montoya, Michael, Zonta and Klien.

All this, of course, is dependent on the FIA giving permission to Michelin to bring in new tyres for tomorrow.

Michael Schumacher goes quickest in the first sector, taking 0.2s out of Raikkonen. He loses time in the second sector, finally crossing the line at 1:11.203, to go fourth.

Coulthard posts his first time of the second, his 1:12.914, enough to put him sixteenth.

With ten minutes remaining, there are only four drivers on track, the busiest man of this session being Albers, who has completed 12 laps.

Having posted times, most Michelin drivers now revert to running through the pitlane, and the session descends further into boring farce.

The session ends with Raikkonen topping the timesheets, ahead of Button, Alonso, Michael, Sato, Fisichella, Trulli, Montoya, Zonta and Barrichello.

In all honesty, nobody is paying too much attention to these times because the big question is whether the FIA will allow Michelin to bring in new tyres from France. Even if the sport's governing body gives its approval there is every chance that the Bridgestone-shod teams could object.

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