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Ralf crashes as Montoya sets the pace
June 18, 2005 08:31 IST
Germany's Ralf Schumacher relived the worst accident of his Formula One career as McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya set the pace in U.S. Grand Prix practice on Friday.
Toyota's Schumacher brought out the red flags in the afternoon session after spinning and hitting the wall heavily at almost the same spot where he crashed his Williams last year during the race.
On Friday he was able to get out of the car, apparently unscathed, although he was still taken to the medical centre for checks before being released. Practice resumed 15 minutes later.
Last year he remained slumped in the cockpit, as cars threaded their way through the wreckage, for what seemed an age before being taken to hospital. Subsequent tests showed he had fractured his spine and he missed the next six races.
Ralf had spoken about that accident when he returned to Indianapolis, saying the circuit held no fear for him.
"If I were afraid of being in a Formula One car I'd stay at home," he said.
Something appeared to give on Friday as he powered into the banked final corner, the fastest section of the track that cars take at more than 300kph.
The Toyota spun, hit the wall with the rear and then skidded across the track with the left side wrecked.
Montoya, Ralf's team mate at Williams last year, was quickest in both sessions.
The Colombian, firing on all cylinders after being disqualified in Canada last weekend, set a time of one minute 12.027 seconds in the morning hour of practice and 1:11.118 in the second session.
Team mate Kimi Raikkonen, winner of three of the last four races, was second in the afternoon after failing to set a timed lap in the morning session while Ferrari's Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was third.
Toyota's Brazilian test driver Ricardo Zonta, who will not race on Sunday, was second fastest in the morning with Renault's championship leader Fernando Alonso third.
Montoya and Alonso, who made a rare error and crashed out in Canada while leading, have the disadvantage of qualifying early on Saturday.
Ferrari's seven times world champion Michael Schumacher, chasing his third win in three years at Indianapolis, was fourth fastest in the afternoon.
Alonso, winner of four races, leads the championship with 59 point to Raikkonen's 37 with 11 grands prix remaining.
Californian Scott Speed made his first appearance in the third Red Bull, becoming the first American driver to participate in official Friday practice at a U.S. Grand Prix since Eddie Cheever in 1989. He will not race on Sunday.
"I don't think there's so much pressure at this moment," said the 22-year-old. "Driving on Fridays, you're not really competing with anything and you're not compared with anyone really."
The last American to race in Formula One was Michael Andretti with McLaren in 1993 but he never competed in his home grand prix.
"I hope he provides a boost for F1 in America," said Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone. "I hope he lives up to his name. That's what Americans want to see, a winner."
1st Free Practice session 2 from the Formula One Grand Prix of United States :
1. Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) McLaren 1:11.118
Formula One: The Complete Coverage