Barrichello on top again

Rubens Barrichello, United States GP 2004

Rubens Barrichello, United States GP 2004 

 © The Cahier Archive

Rubens Barrichello set the fastest time of the second session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a lap of 1m10.365s, six-tenths under the lap record at the Indiana track. The Ferrari was six-tenth faster than its nearest challenger, Anthony Davidson in the third BAR-Honda who just edged out Juan Pablo Montoya's BMW Williams for the second slot. Michael Schumacher was fourth quickest ahead of Jenson Button (BAR-Honda), Ralf Schumacher (BMW Williams), Cristiano da Matta, Olivier Panis and Ricardo Zonta (Toyota) were seventh, eighth and ninth and the top 10 was rounded off by Kimi Raikkonen in the faster of the two McLaren-Mercedes. Fernando Alonso lost time with a spin and managed only three laps while David Coulthard did only two laps because of technical problems. Takuma Sato also lost out, completing only three laps because of a collision with the Sauber of Felipe Massa.

The Friday times mean very little as usual and F1 fans were waiting for Saturday morning to give a better indication of who is going to be competitive this weekend.


Rubens Barrichello (1st, 1:10.365): "It was a very productive day and I am very happy with the car's performance. We did a lot of work on assessing the tyres and they are working well on their first lap, allowing me to set my best time immediately. Being quickest on Friday is of absolutely no importance: it is a question of finding the right balance on the car and being comfortable with its handling. I quite like driving the oval section here, as it is something a bit different and the infield section was still a bit green today. Tomorrow will be a busy day as we try and find the best set up for the race. This has been a near perfect start to the weekend."

Michael Schumacher (4th, 1:11.036): "This was not an especially good Friday for me. For whatever reason, I could not get the car to work the way I would have liked when trying to push hard on just one opening lap. Therefore I am not particularly pleased with the result, but we are on the pace and we will still be able to fight both for pole position and the race win. When I spun, it was just my mistake. It seems the track, which is very wide here, was not actually wide enough at that moment!"

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "The United States Grand Prix is the second consecutive race of this long North American trip. In today's free practice the cars went quite well, as did the tyres Bridgestone put at our disposal. Therefore, we should be in a good position for both qualifying and the race. Also important will be the support from Shell on a track which is very hard on engines, as they have supplied us with a new oil. It is always a pleasure to return to this prestigious venue which is part of racing history and to a country that is Ferrari's biggest market."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "Pretty good sessions, no problems with the cars. We did plenty of work assessing the tyres and it seems that they are looking good on the first lap which is encouraging for qualifying. We still have some work to do on the balance of the car. Rubens was very good and quick today which is a good sign for tomorrow. Michael was fighting the car a bit on his first lap and so seems to be a bit behind his team-mate at the moment, so now we will try and understand why."


Juan Pablo Montoya (3rd, 1:10.982): "I am reasonably satisfied with the performance of my car today, even if we have still quite a lot of work ahead of us, before we can say we are ready for tomorrow's qualifying and Sunday's race. It's too early to say where we really stand in relation to the competition. I evaluated the type of tyres that Michelin brought here and they seem to be both good, but before making our choice we need to have a careful look at the data."

Ralf Schumacher (6th, 1:11.530): "All in all I can be very happy with today's performance even if driving was fairly difficult due to the fact the track is still quite slippery. I finished my tyre evaluation and collected some useful data. There is still some work to do, but I am pretty confident about the weekend ahead."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We have had a productive day, spending the time looking at the race set-up. We did not have any reliability problems and we have good information to make our tyre choice. Tonight we will put a lot of effort in to the set-up work for tomorrow's qualifying and also for the race."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Friday is the day when we do our set-up and tyre-evaluation work. Both the drivers completed their programmes without any problems. In today's Free Practice sessions we collected sufficient data to continue our weekend preparations."


Kimi Raikkonen (10th, 1:12.197): "We completed our tyre evaluation programme and will continue working on finding a good set up in tomorrow's two practice sessions. It can be quite tricky here as you have to find a good balance both for the full throttle part and the in-field section. I like this track and enjoyed my first couple of laps familiarising myself with the lay out."

David Coulthard (25th, No Time): "Obviously I lost some track time as I was unable to take part in the second session which is a shame. All of a sudden at turn eight the car just stopped and there was nothing I could do. Kimi collected quite a bit of data which should help us in making the best tyre choice possible, and we have two practice session's tomorrow morning before qualifying and the race."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Trading off straight line speed for infield grip is always the difficult technical decision that all the teams have to make here at the Indianapolis circuit. History shows that the best qualifying lap doesn't necessarily mean that you have the best car for the race, which is what makes the US Grand Prix interesting."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "We went through our race preparation programme with Kimi, which went quite well. Unfortunately David lost the second session due to an electrical fault which didn't help his set-up work."


Jarno Trulli (12th, 1:12.441): "I had a difficult day today. Obviously, we concentrated on tyre testing as normal, plus a little bit of set-up work, but at this stage we do not seem to be competitive. The circuit was very slippery, which means the car has very little grip, and we haven't yet found a good balance."

Fernando Alonso (20th, 1:13.732): "It was a very difficult opening day from my point of view. The car had very low grip this morning, then I made a mistake early in the second session: the rear of the car was quite nervous, and I lost control under braking for Turn 11. At the moment, we are not in very good shape, and there is a lot of work to do this evening to try and catch up the time we have lost today."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "As the number of cars that left the track today showed, the circuit conditions were extremely difficult. The nature of the circuit means that the low downforce configuration is particularly undesirable when the infield is so slippery. Our job was made more difficult by the fact that we had only one car with which to conduct the tyre comparison and even then, Jarno suffered a suspected gearbox problem which interrupted him, However we have managed to gather our data, and now need to make the best possible use of it."

Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "It was certainly not a trouble-free day for us, and the already difficult task of picking the right tyres was made more difficult by the loss of one car at the start of the second session. From a purely engine point of view, we managed to gather the data we required in order to confirm our decisions regarding how the engine is used. But in terms of overall performance, our position is not particularly strong, and we will be working hard this evening to resolve that."


Anthony Davidson (2nd, 1:10.967): "Driving for the first time at Indianapolis has been every bit as exciting as I thought it would be. It's an interesting track and the long straights create good overtaking opportunities; I've never overtaken as many cars in a practice session as I have today. The track was very dusty at the start of both sessions which made set-up changes difficult to determine. The asphalt rubbered-in reasonably quickly through the session so we have been able to make steady improvements. Generally I'm very pleased with what I have achieved at yet another circuit debut. I think we are looking good for another strong race here but it's very hot and humid which should make it even more challenging for Jenson and Taku."

Jenson Button (5th, 1:11.230): "We've had a really productive day today. We made some useful improvements to the car and worked on our performance over longer runs. The track was very dusty when we started out and we set the car up to cope with the oversteer we were experiencing earlier in the day. The circuit had a lot more grip this afternoon so the balance wasn't ideal for one lap. We've gathered quite a bit of information which we'll be looking at tonight and which should help us tomorrow."

Takuma Sato (14th, 1:12.601): "It was a shame that I wasn't able to complete my programme today, having made some positive changes after the first session. It was good to see the other two cars running well and completing the required tyre evaluation. Even though I was not able to complete a full tyre assessment I am confident that we can make the right choice for tomorrow."

David Richards, Team Principal:

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "We have had a strong day today and been close to the top of the time sheets in both sessions. Anthony did very well and completed 65 laps so we have a lot of good data to study tonight."


Giancarlo Fisichella (13th, 1:12.537): "We got off to a good start today but then I had some problems with oversteer and the rear tyres were tending to blister, so our main focus has been on improving the set-up to minimise this. We have a lot of work to do before qualifying tomorrow."

Felipe Massa (17th, 1:13.196): "Like Giancarlo, I had some problems with oversteer today. As for the incident, I knew that Sato was some way behind me and he wasn't in my mirrors or alongside me when I looked before turning in as normal. Then he hit me. I don't understand. This isn't a race today, it's just a practice session..."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "It was a usual Friday for us, but clearly we have more work to do on the set-up of the cars to get the best out of the tyres for qualifying and the race."


Mark Webber (11th, 1:12.438): "This was a good day for me today and I worked through a comprehensive programme with my engineers. The team has achieved a good set-up on the car and the balance is feeling right. The weather can make a big difference at this track so I am pleased that we did not experience any of the rain that we saw yesterday. We are well prepared going into tomorrow and I will be working with my engineers tonight doing some fine tuning."

Bjorn Wirdheim (15th, 1:12.761): "I really enjoyed driving the car today and I was pleased to have managed thirty laps. My running in Montreal (Canada) had been curtailed very early in the day so getting out and getting a full day today makes a huge difference. My test programme focused mainly on aerodynamic work during the morning session and then I also did some tyre work this afternoon. The grip was not great this morning but by this afternoon is was good and we could really push the R5. My set-up is good and I have only had to make minor changes."

Christian Klien (16th, 1:12.950): "It was my first opportunity this morning to experience this new track and I really enjoyed it. The circuit is unusual and the infield in particular is quite tricky. I worked through my full test programme and we were pleased to have completed it without any problems. The R5 is feeling well balanced around here and I have managed to achieve a good set-up in advance of tomorrow's qualifying. Completing a good number of laps makes a huge difference to us especially at a new track like this one is for me. I spent some time this morning working on familiarisation and I am comfortable with the track layout."

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "All three drivers completed their planned test programmes today during their practice sessions and I was pleased with their results. The R5 was well prepared going into this race and that is reflected in the lack of changes that we have had to make during the day. Bjorn's car suffered a minor electrical disconnection that stopped him shortly after leaving the garage this morning but that was easily solved. The grip was quite low for the drivers this morning but it improved vastly by the end of the session and they managed to stay on track throughout. We split testing roles and between Mark, Christian and Bjorn we worked successfully on mechanical, aerodynamic, tyre and control optimisation. We are now focusing on our qualifying going into tomorrow and of course our main goal the race."


Cristiano da Matta (7th, 1:11.893): "I think we have had quite a good couple of sessions this morning. We have worked mainly on tuning the settings on the chassis and we also did the tyre comparison, which is the priority on Fridays. It seems quite clear to me what compound of tyre we need to use, but we will only really know where we stand tomorrow because every team does different things on the opening day. For us, I think the biggest thing we need to look at is the traction, but overall it's not been a bad start to our US Grand Prix weekend."

Olivier Panis (8th, 1:11.994): "We have had two productive free practice sessions which we also used for long runs in order to get as much data about the two tyre compounds as possible. I am quite happy that all three of us drivers were able to get into the top ten. This is particularly encouraging as I know that I still have some margin for improvement because I was held up by traffic on my quick lap. The team did a very good job and I am looking forward to tomorrow."

Ricardo Zonta (9th, 1:12.019): "Although I raced here back in 2000, the Speedway felt like a new track to me first thing this morning, so I spent the initial runs simply relearning the circuit. We made some good progress to improve the balance of the car for the second session when we completed our tyre programme and long runs. I had quite a bit of traffic on my final set of new tyres, so I backed off during the out lap to create enough distance. By doing this, the brakes were not at their optimum temperature, which resulted in me locking the wheels and losing a couple of tenths. Nevertheless, I am happy and I think we have done a good job."

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "We enjoyed a trouble-free and solid opening day, although the track was quite green to begin with. As usual, we spent the sessions evaluating the tyre compounds that Michelin has brought to Indy. All three drivers complained about rear drop off in the opening practice hour, but we had no real problems. We were able to gather some interesting information concerning the tyre choice, which we will have to analyse tonight. Overall the cars look quite competitive and it is a great start of the weekend to have three cars in the top ten today."


Timo Glock (19th, 1:13.446): "The first practice was difficult because the track didn't have much grip. It improved lap by lap but we still have the same problems really - the car is good for one lap and then we get oversteer and traction problems. We have to look for a better set-up and work long and hard tonight to improve the car for long runs."

Nick Heidfeld (21st, 1:13.961): "Unfortunately, this has not been our best Friday practice day, not because of reliability - which is not an issue - but because the balance has been difficult from the start. We made some good improvements between the sessions but we still have a very nervous rear on the car and we need to work very hard for tomorrow."

Giorgio Pantano (22nd, 1:14.407): "Today was a learning day for me as I have never been here as a driver before and have to learn the circuit. By the end of the day I was quite happy with knowing the track and we have been working on the balance of the car and tyres. We have some problems with the car's rear stability so now we are going to check what we can to for tomorrow."

James Robinson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "The programme has been that of a usual Friday but it's been a hard day. We have concentrated on tyre homework, like everybody in the pit lane I'm sure. Indianapolis is very hard on tyres and today's high ambient and track temperatures reinforced the need to do the homework well. On the positive side it was generally a trouble free practice although Nick had a small oil leak at the end which cost him the last few minutes, but nothing too serious. We now have a heavy night ahead of us to study the data to improve our race balance for tomorrow."


Zsolt Baumgartner (18th, 1:13.384): "We worked throughout the day on the balance, and finally got it on the last run, as the lap time reflects. I have never driven on this circuit before and at first it was difficult to find a rhythm, but then we made good progress this afternoon. I hope we can improve the race balance of the car still further tomorrow. We have done a good day's work and it is always nice to set a quick time at the end of the session."

Bas Leinders (23rd, 1:14.409): "I'm very happy today, both with the car and with my own performance. I had a very nice test programme today and was able to set some good times in both practice sessions. I would like to thank everyone on the team for a great job today."

Gianmaria Bruni (24th, 1:14.428): "It's a little disappointing that we couldn't do a low-fuel run in the end, as we weren't able to take full advantage of the work we did today. Unfortunately, we had a technical problem, which meant we weren't able to go out for the last run, when we should have set our fastest lap. We succeeded in improving the balance of the car, though, and were close to Jordan on lap times, so we will aim to make more progress tomorrow."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "I was pleased with the performance of all three drivers, who did a solid job today, and was particularly impressed by Zsolt's fastest lap in his final run. This is traditionally a circuit where Minardi has gone well, so we look forward to tomorrow and what it will bring."

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