United States GP - Kimi happy after practice

15th June 2007
Three hours of free practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and it is very close at the front between the two leading teams in the championship. The day ended with reigning world champion Fernando Alonso posting the quickest time in his McLaren-Mercedes, ahead of his team-mate and winner of last Sunday's race in Montreal, Lewis Hamilton. Just over a tenth of a second slower than the Englishman was the F2007 of Felipe Massa, who in turn was fractionally quicker than Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen. Both Prancing Horse drivers seemed in optimistic mood at the end of the first day of free practice and, although Fridays are always difficult to judge, it seems they expect to be more competitive than in Monaco and Montreal. These four drivers were the only ones to break the 1m 13 second around the famous Brickyard track. Second in the Canadian Grand Prix a few days ago, Nick Heidfeld set the fifth fastest time in his BMW-Sauber, with David Coulthard rounding off the top six for Red Bull Racing. Massa completed a total of 58 laps; 22 in the morning and 36 in the afternoon, while Raikkonen did one more, divided as 21 in the morning and 38 in the afternoon. One new name appeared on the time sheet today. As a result of his accident in Montreal, the FIA Chief Medical Officer ruled that Robert Kubica should not compete in this weekend's event, simply as a precaution. He is being replaced by the BMW-Sauber third driver, Sebastian Vettel. The 20 year old German seemed very quick when completing Third Driver duties for the team last year and today, at his first official presence in a Grand Prix meeting, he posted the eleventh fastest time. "I am reasonably happy with how today went," Kimi said. "This afternoon, we definitely improved the situation over the way it was in the first session. There is still work to do on improving the car's set up but I think we can be competitive up against our main rivals. One thing that is certain, is that we will put all our effort into achieving that." Luca Baldisserri also said, "During the first session, in which we ran with just one set of tyres, we worked on the set-up of the F2007 and, by the end, it seems we have managed to find a satisfactory balance for both drivers. We are still struggling a little bit to do the times on new tyres and this is one of the aspects we will have to work on very carefully in preparation for tomorrow's qualifying. We have seen that our race pace is pretty good, with a level of consistency in terms of tyre performance. We can expect a very close fight with our main rivals but we can hold our own."