Takuma Sato set the fastest time in a wet first practice session on the streets of Belle Isle in Detroit on Friday, with most drivers opting to keep warm and dry in the garage and not risk damaging their cars in a mostly pointless endeavour.

"At least I enjoy the wet conditions and it's challenging," said Sato. "I like it," he added, while insisting that he still wished it had been a dry session.

Although several hours of rain had mostly stopped by the time the session began, there was still too much standing water out on the track to make representative laps possible. To prove how treacherous it was, Justin Wilson hit the tyre wall at turn 7 shortly before the end of the session causing some light damage to the nose of the #18 Dale Coyne car.

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"I didn't think I was that close to the limit, but obviously I was," he said. "I just locked the right front going in."

Sato's time of 1:28.4739s was set after eight laps in the one hour session that ran from noon until 1pm, and was 0.3692s faster that Rubens Barrichello, who got seven laps under his belt before calling time on the endeavour.

Sebastien Bourdais put in the most laps with 14 circulations of the two-mile course, as he attempted to get more experience of the Dragon car with its new Chevrolet engine. Bourdais will be the only driver for the team this weekend, after a lack of engine deals meant that Katherine Legge will now take over the car for oval events.

No Penske drivers fancied coming out to play, and Charlie Kimball was the only Ganassi driver to come out and then just for a solitary installation/shakedown lap.

Full practice 1 times available.