Two-time F1 World Champion FERNANDO ALONSO was the fastest Friday afternoon in the second and final Formula One practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, at 1m 12.158s.

It wasn't as fast as his time in the morning session - 1m11:925s. He said: "It's nice to be back in Indianapolis, and so far things are looking promising. As I have said before this track has never been kind to me. The car has been performing strongly at the last couple of races and today in practice, but I am sure that both Ferrari and BMW will be at the front as well".

Alonso's team-mate, and winner of last weekend's Canadian Grand Prix, rookie LEWIS HAMILTON was second fastest in the afternoon at 1m 12.309s. He was third fastest in the morning.

He said "As this was the first time I have ever driven at the Indianapolis track, I spent some time just getting to know the circuit. The really tricky bit is the mid section as it's very tight and twisty. We spent our time fine tuning the set-up and evaluating the two different tyre options provided by Bridgestone this weekend. In the first part of the second session I ran a little wide and did some minor damage to the aerodynamic fences which took a little time for the guys to repair. [He drove off drivers' left through the grass and gravel at turn six and back on course] We have a pretty good idea of where we are going, and it looks like we should be competitive, but as always Friday is only the start of the weekend - there is a long way to go."

Third through fifth were FELIPE MASSA, KIMI RAIKKONEN and NICK HEIDFELD. The top half of the field was all close together in times.

Heidfeld's team-mate this weekend will be reserve driver, SEBASTIAN VETTEL of Germany. He is replacing recovering ROBERT KUBICA of Poland this weekend, after Kubica's spectacular crash during the Canadian Grand Prix last weekend. He suffered a mild concussion and sprained ankle. In American open-wheel racing, it is often mandatory that a driver not race again for another seven days after a concussion. While that is not a hard and fast rule in F1, Kubica is taking the medical advice and sitting out the USGP. Vettel, 19 years old, was fourth overall in the first practice and eleventh in the second. This is his first Formula One race, although he has had some Friday F1 practice sessions, which are open to reserve and test drivers. BMW Sauber test driver, TIMO GLOCK, will become the reserve driver for the weekend.

American SCOTT SPEED ran as high as eleventh, then was 14th fastest for a long period, only to fall in the last few minutes to 18th - 1m 13.712s after 34 laps. He was 15th fastest in the morning session - 1m 13.990s after 24 laps. Reportedly, Speed has gained more grid positions in a race than any other F1 driver this season. His Red Bull junior team has the old Toyota gearbox, while the other Red Bull drivers - DAVID COULTHARD and MARK WEBBER - have a new seamless gearbox. However, the drivers aren't happy with its performance. One failed in Montreal last week and another one for Webber Friday morning in the first practice. He is discouraged. Webber finished twelfth fastest, while Coulthard was sixth fastest.

Speed said: "Unfortunately, we had several problems on the car today, with the steering wheel, with the TV monitor falling on my finger in the garage and at the end the wind speed indicator began to come loose. I also think the fact we are still waiting for our new gearbox will hurt us more at this circuit than at others. We are sliding around a lot on the infield, but I think that is the same for everyone and I don't think our balance is so far off what we want. Because of the various problems I had, I will be relying on Tonio's [team-mate TONIO LIUZZI] data to help with tyre choice. It toppled over from the vibration while the crew was changing the tyres.

The finger accident was 'very very small'. Speed was sitting in the car watching the TV monitor placed so he could watch the action and keep track of the times.

The temperatures were warm in Indianapolis, especially in the afternoon. Yet the teams continued to use tyre warmers, which have been around for a long time, and now rim warmers, which are a newer innovation. There is no advantage to preserving the tyres in Friday practice as all have to be returned back to FIA.

Saturday's schedule calls for morning practice and afternoon qualifying.

 

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