After a strong d?but in the IZOD indyCar Series in the season opener at St Petersburg a fortnight ago, Schmidt-Peterson's Tristan Vautier confirmed that it had been no fluke by topping the times in the first practice session for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

The Frenchman set a time of 1:09.0120s on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park and was 0.0526s faster than Ganassi's Scott Dixon. However, Vautier was also the cause of the sole red flag of the one-hour session when he ran off into the sand with five minutes remaining.

"We didn't damage the car or anything, but they didn't put me back on track, they parked me behind the barriers," he said. "It's my mistake in the end, even if it's frustrating that I couldn't get back in the end. My mistake, but we had good speed before that and the car felt good, so it's tough."

The reigning series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was third fastest for Andretti Autosport ahead of Charlie Kimball, Will Power and Dario Franchitti. In his first outing in the IndyCar Series, AJ Allmendinger finished with the ninth fastest time less than four tenths off Vautier's benchmark. In all, the top 22 cars were covered by less than a second, and the spread of Honda and Chevrolet-powered cars was remarkably even compared with the early Chevy domination at St Pete.

The slowest time of the first session was that of Ana Beatriz, whose place in the Dale Coyne Racing seat has been confirmed through to Indianapolis after Stefan Wilson was unable to clinch the deal that would have seen him move up from Firestone Indy Lights to race the 2013 road and street course events alongside his older brother Justin.

Practice 1 times

1. #55 Tristan Vautier (H) 119.979mph 1:09.0120s (16 laps)
2. #9 Scott Dixon (H) 119.888mph 1:09.0646s + 0.0526s (11 laps)
3. #1 Ryan Hunter-Reay (C) 119.668mph 1:09.1917s + 0.1797s (21 laps)
4. #83 Charlie Kimball (H) 119.515mph 1:09.2798s + 0.2678s (19 laps)
5. #12 Will Power (C) 119.514mph 1:09.2806s + 0.2686s (23 laps)
6. #10 Dario Franchitti (H) 119.501mph 1:09.2883s + 0.2763s (26 laps)
7. #78 Simona de Silvestro (C) 119.412mph 1:09.3396s + 0.3276s (10 laps)
8. #77 Simon Pagenaud (H) 119.404mph 1:09.3443s + 0.3323s (20 laps)
9. #2 AJ Allmendinger (C) 119.339mph 1:09.3822s + 0.3702s (22 laps)
10. #3 Helio Castroneves (C) 119.267mph 1:09.4241s + 0.4121s (14 laps)
11. #22 Oriol Servia (C) 119.230mph 1:09.4456s + 0.4336s (21 laps)
12. #16 James Jakes (H) 119.221mph 1:09.4509s + 0.4389s (17 laps)
13. #14 Takuma Sato (H) 119.169mph 1:09.4812s + 0.4692s (16 laps)
14. #11 Tony Kanaan (C) 119.148mph 1:09.4933s + 0.4813s (9 laps)
15. #27 James Hinchcliffe (C) 119.101mph 1:09.5206s + 0.5086s (7 laps)
16. #67 Josef Newgarden (H) 118.845mph 1:09.6703s + 0.6583s (21 laps)
17. #25 Marco Andretti (C) 118.796mph 1:09.6993s + 0.6873s (9 laps)
18. #7 Sebastien Bourdais (C) 118.739mph 1:09.7329s + 0.7209s (21 laps)
19. #98 Alex Tagliani (H) 118.647mph 1:09.7870s + 0.7750s (15 laps)
20. #5 EJ Viso (C) 118.631mph 1:09.7962s + 0.7842s (9 laps)
21. #15 Graham Rahal (H) 118.584mph 1:09.8239s + 0.8119s (13 laps)
22. #19 Justin Wilson (H) 118.454mph 1:09.9008s + 0.8888s (13 laps)
23. #4 JR Hildebrand (C) 118.184mph 1:10.0602s + 1.0482s (21 laps)
24. #6 Sebastian Saavedra (C) 118.113mph 1:10.1026s + 1.0906s (20 laps)
25. #20 Ed Carpenter (C) 116.605mph 1:11.0089s + 1.9969s (24 laps)
26. #18 Ana Beatriz (H) 114.623mph 1:12.2367s + 3.2247s (24 laps)

Total Laps: 442



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