tampabay.com

Weekend to test Raikkonen

Associated Press
Published July 30, 2005


BUDAPEST, Hungary - Kimi Raikkonen's much maligned racecar held together fine during practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Now comes the tough part: making it through the weekend.

The McLaren driver needs to avoid the problems that have plagued him the previous three races if he has any hopes of catching Fernando Alonso in the Formula One standings.

"I think we are slipping away a bit too much now," Raikkonen said. "We still have a chance, but you need to be realistic."

Raikkonen, a distant second to Alonso, had to replace his engines after qualifying in France and Britain, costing him valuable spots on the starting grid, and stalled on the track while leading the German Grand Prix.

He posted the fastest time among regular drivers Friday and will run the first qualifying lap today. That is not necessarily a good thing - the track tends to get faster as the day goes on.

"I feel there is still room for us to improve and the times will drop once we have a clean and fast line," Raikkonen said. "There is still some work to do during the free practice (this) morning when we will do the final tweaks to set up for qualifying and the race."

The McLaren driver clocked 1 minute, 21.281 seconds over the 2.722-mile Hungaroring circuit in the second practice session.

He was third behind two test drivers. Toyota's Ricardo Zonta was fastest in 1:20.409, ahead of Alexander Wurz of McLaren-Mercedes. They and three other test drivers can only run in the Friday sessions.

Jarno Trulli (1:21.410) and Ralf Schumacher (1:21.651) were fourth and fifth respectively.

CHAMP CAR: The sound of 700-horsepower engines finally reverberated off the steel and glass towers of downtown, and the promoters of the inaugural San Jose Grand Prix breathed a sigh of relief.

The race, conceived about a year ago by city officials and Kevin Kalkhoven, the series co-owner, got off to a slow start when workers struggled to put the finishing touches on the 1.448-mile temporary street circuit that circles the convention center.

It wasn't until noon, nearly four hours later than scheduled, that the first racecar appeared on the circuit lined by concrete barriers. With the late start, the series decided to eliminate the provisional qualifying session and run two practice sessions instead.

Once the cars took to the streets, series points leader Sebastien Bourdais, a Tampa resident, rose to the top of the speed chart in both practice sessions. The Frenchman, who had two harmless drives into runoff areas in the afternoon practice before turning the fastest lap of the day at 99.074 mph, said it is not an easy circuit to drive.

TRANS-AM: Boris Said won his second pole of the season in qualifying for today's Grand Prix of San Jose. The 2002 series champion went 80.322 mph.