Raikkonen Fastest in Spain Practice – Kimi Raikkonen remained on top in the second Friday practice session at Catalunya, with the two Renaults completing an unusual top three.
The title contenders concentrated on heavier fuel loads for much of the afternoon, and Raikkonen’s session-topping time was a full 1.3 seconds slower than he had managed this morning.
His Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa was fifth fastest, while the two McLarens were only 11th and 16th.
The teams’ differing strategies meant that the timing screens had an unusual look throughout, with Force India holding first and second positions for the first 40 minutes – Adrian Sutil leading the way initially before being beaten by teammate Giancarlo Fisichella.
David Coulthard (Red Bull) ended their moment of glory by lapping in 1:22.321, 0.062 seconds quicker than Fisichella’s benchmark, as the session neared its halfway point.
Ten minutes later, Williams took a one-two, with first Nico Rosberg, then Kazuki Nakajima going fastest of all.
Then with 27 minutes remaining, Fernando Alonso hit the front, to the delight of the Spanish fans in the grandstands.
His 1:22.034 lap was 0.138 seconds clear of Nakajima’s previous best, but was beaten within 12 minutes by his own teammate Nelson Piquet, who lapped 0.015 seconds faster. Although Alonso subsequently improved his time, he only closed the gap by 0.002 seconds.
Renault then held the top two places until the final four minutes, when Raikkonen moved ahead with a 1:21.935 lap, 0.084 seconds quicker than Piquet.
McLaren did not feature amongst the lead runners. Hamilton had a spin at Turn 10 on his first run, and ended the day in 11th. He then came to a halt in the pit entry on his final lap of the session.
His teammate Heikki Kovalainen managed just eight laps. A gearbox problem kept the Finn in the McLaren garage for most of the first hour, and when he did take to the track, he only completed a handful of laps before his car slowed and came to a halt on the way out of Turn 6.
Behind Raikkonen, Piquet and Alonso, Nakajima held on to fourth place for Williams, with Massa fifth and 0.2 seconds slower than Raikkonen.
Mark Webber and David Coulthard took sixth and eighth for Red Bull, split by Rosberg, while the two Force Indias were shuffled down the order as others improved, but secured the final top ten positions.
ALMS TV and Attendance Gains – In an era where television ratings and attendance at many sporting events are showing declines, the American Le Mans Series is moving the needle appreciably. Any way you cut it or count it, attendance and television viewing for the Series is up significantly.
Attendance at American Le Mans Series first three rounds is averaging more than 106,000 per race while television viewers increased more than four and a half fold. The attendance mark is a 3.2 percent increase over the same period last year. Reported estimated attendances this season are Sebring 170,000; St. Petersburg 45,000; and Long Beach 105,000. Figures are derived from media reports and other sources. Sunday attendances for the IRL races at St. Petersburg and Long Beach are not taken into account.
Last season, SPEED telecast the first three races of the year to more than 156,000 television viewers per race. This season, two of the American Le Mans Series races have been on ABC, while the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring remained on SPEED. The two network telecasts have shown a 37 percent increase over network telecasts last season, while Sebring’s viewership increased 14 percent, giving the Series an average of more than 710,333 viewers per race for the three telecasts, a four and one-half times increase from 2007.
Last weekend’s Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach telecast on ABC generated an 0.8 ABC rating, the Series’ highest rated network show since a similar 0.8 CBS rating at Lime Rock in 2006.