Montoya quickest as Michelin runners limit running


With fifteen minutes to go before the first of today's free practice sessions, it has been confirmed that Ralf Schumacher will play no further part in this weekend's activities.

The decision that the German would not participate was made following an examination by the FIA's medical delegate, Gary Hartstein, earlier this morning.

"The FIA decided not to let me back in the car," said Ralf. "But I shall be back for the French Grand Prix."

Ralf's place will be taken by Ricardo Zonta, who last raced in China last year when he replaced Cristiano da Matta.

As we await the start of today's first session, the air temperature is 21 degrees C, while the track temperature is 33 degrees.

The lights go green, and first out is Christijan Albers, followed by Friesacher, Monteiro and Karthikeyan. The Indian had a couple of 'offs' here yesterday, while his Portuguese teammate admits to being left unimpressed by the circuit. However, we're sure he was referring to the F1 configuration.

Having completed their installation lap, the four drivers return to their respective garages.

There follows almost thirteen minutes of total inactivity, before Friesacher returns to the track. The Austrian sets the benchmark (1:16.552) as Jacques Villeneuve leaves the pits, as does Albers.

Friesacher improves with a 1:15.963, then a 1:15.134, as Albers goes second with a 1:15.371.

On his first 'flying' lap, Karthikeyan goes quickest (14.323), as Friday pace-setter Juan Pablo Montoya leaves the McLaren garage.

Jacques Villeneuve has done a number of laps but in reality is returning to the pits each time and driving straight through. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen are both on track.

Karthikeyan improves to 1:13.764, as Raikkonen goes quickest in the second sector.

A 1:12.180 sees Michael Schumacher go quickest, as Villeneuve continues to lap the Indianapolis circuit, despite not actually completing the full lap.

Meanwhile, we hear from Red Bull's Christian Klien that Michelin has limited the laps for the free practice sessions as they still have serious concerns regarding the tyres. Furthermore, the air pressure has had to be increased and the camber reduced.

While Peter Sauber says that all the Michelin-shod teams are going to limit their tests on yesterday's tyres to the infield section, today, as several other teams tyres were found to be on the way to suffering similar 'damage' to those of the Toyota drivers. This explains why Villeneuve is missing the final sector and returning to the pits.

It's a Ferrari 1-2 as Barrichello goes second (12.311), as Button, Sato, Heidfeld and Fisichella leave their garages.

With fifteen minutes remaining, only six drivers have posted times; Michael, Barrichello, Karthikeyan, Monteiro, Friesacher and Albers.

Barrichello posts 1:11.838 to go quickest, as Monteiro improves to third (11.838).

We now hear from a Michelin official, that the French manufacturer has "tested all night at Indy and Clermont-Ferrand and couldn't reproduce the failure that caused yesterday's incidents". Since they still don't understand what caused the problems, they are calling on the FIA to get permission to ship alternative tyres in time for the race.

David Coulthard is the seventh driver to post a time, the Scot going third with a 1:12.409. The only driver that hasn't left his garage is Toyota's Jarno Trulli.

Michael improves (12.016), as Montoya goes quickest in the first and second sectors. The Colombian crosses the line at 1:10.726, the fastest lap of the weekend, and only 0.5s off the 2004 pole time.

With three minutes remaining, only eight drivers have posted times.

Michael improves to 1:11.876, though he remains third, 1.015s off Montoya's pace.

The German improves yet again, the Bridgestones clearly not suffering in the same way as the Michelins, he crosses the line at 1:11.769.

The session ends with just eight names on the timesheets: Montoya is quickest, ahead of Michael, Barrichello, Coulthard, Monteiro, Karthikeyan, Friesacher and Albers.

Although every other driver, except Trulli, has been out, they have opted to restrict their testing to the infield section, thereby avoiding the high-speed straight, where the Michelins appears to be suffering.

A very, very strange session and a very odd state of affairs.

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 18/06/2005
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