A tropical downpour which began just as the pit lane opened for today’s first official practice session left a slippery wet track for A1 Grand Prix’s first outing at the Sentul circuit, Indonesia. The rain continued to fall into the afternoon but as the sun broke through mid-way into the second session, conditions improved and the A1 teams picked up speed.

Relative newcomer to the Series, A1 Team Italy’s Max Busnelli who drove for the first time at the last round brought out the first red flag spinning off and damaging the car. Red flags caused by Austria, Brazil and the Czech Republic and China followed with Lebanon and Portugal joining the list from the second session.

Home racer Ananada Mikola showed that circuit experience pays leading the second session for some time but it was A1 Team Malaysia’s Alex Yoong who put in the day’s fastest lap time of 1.27.557. ‘We did a good job today, but it is more important to be quick tomorrow. We were struggling with set up at first, but we found a couple of things that really helped us. And I have raced here a long time ago which helps.’

Commenting on tyre wear at the track, Alex admitted ‘I am a little worried, the track is very abrasive. Tyre wear will be high if the track is dry, but I have heard that it will be wet over the weekend.’

Marcus Marshall made an impressive debut with A1 Team Australia, finishing the day second fastest. Marcus said he was impressed with what he had seen of A1GP so far, ‘It’s been fantastic, I love the concept, every car being equal means tough racing. No-one has an advantage, and everyone starts even.’

Winner of the last A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Jos Verstappen, is hoping for a repeat performance this weekend. ‘I’m very pleased with how it went today, it took around five or six laps to find the limit. The response at home was very positive after the win in South Africa, there was good press and TV footage which always helps a team.’

However, the focus of local attention remains on Ananda Mikola, the Asian Formula Three Champions, who is the driver for A1 Team Indonesia. ‘There isn’t too much pressure at my home race, it is my own pride that is at stake. I just want to get a good result. I think we are looking good for the race, as long as no-one hits me from the back! This is a great race for Indonesia, there are some good drivers here, some from F1 such as Ralph, Jos and Alex. We show great racing, and crashes on TV all over the world, I think it will be a great race this weekend.’

Official Practice Session 1 (13.00 – 14.00)

  A1 Team Driver Time No. Laps
1 Ireland Ralph Firman 1.28.458 16
2 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 1.29.006 20
3 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 1.29.028 20
4 Portugal Alvaro Parente 1.29.372 18
5 Australia Christian Jones 1.29.551 28
6 Canada Sean McIntosh 1.29.737 29
7 Switzerland Neel Jani 1.30.166 18
8 South Africa Stephen Simpson 1.30.205 25
9 France Nicolas Lapierre 1.30.295 10
10 New Zealand Matt Halliday 1.30.385 30
11 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 1.30.444 25
12 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 1.30.517 20
13 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 1.30.571 27
14 Germany Timo Scheider 1.30.610 21
15 Mexico Salvador Duran 1.30.730 20
16 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 1.30.801 6
17 Malaysia Alex Yoong 1.31.308 23
18 India Armaan Ebrahim 1.31.393 29
19 Lebanon Basil Shaaban 1.31.822 28
20 China Tengyi Jiang 1.32.963 28
21 USA Philip Giebler 1.33.459 16
22 Austria Mathias Lauda 1.34.518 10
23 Italy Max Busnelli 1.37.191 5

Official Practice session 2 (16.00 – 17.00)

  A1 Team Driver Time No. Laps
1 Malaysia Alex Yoong 1.27.557 17
2 Australia Marcus Marshall 1.27.820 21
3 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 1.28.279 20
4 France Nicolas Lapierre 1.28.680 23
5 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 1.28.776 15
6 Ireland Ralph Firman 1.28.915 20
7 Canada Sean McIntosh 1.29.203 18
8 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 1.29.380 21
9 South Africa Stephen Simpson 1.29.437 17
10 Mexico Salvador Duran 1.29.666 19
11 Austria Mathias Lauda 1.29.785 28
12 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 1.29.839 23
13 India Armaan Ebrahim 1.29.925 22
14 China Tengyi Jiang 1.30.019 30
15 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 1.30.100 22
16 Portugal Alvaro Parente 1.30.172 26
17 Germany Timo Scheider 1.30.349 23
18 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 1.30.414 25
19 Switzerland Neel Jani 1.30.489 24
20 USA Philip Geibler 1.30.772 26
21 Italy Max Busnelli 1.30.822 23
22 New Zealand Matt Halliday 1.31.464 23
23 Lebanon Khalil Beschir 1.32.958 24

Reporting by A1GP.com
Christian Fittipaldi made his A1 debut for Team Brazil.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Alex Yoong was fastest in the second session (Team Malaya).
(Picture A1GP.com)
Ananda Mikola (Team Indonesia) was quick in both sessions.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Christian Jones in the rough (Team Australia).
(Picture A1GP.com)
Nicolas Lapierre (Team France).
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jos Verstappen (Team Netherlands).
(Picture A1GP.com)
An almost empty pits complex.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Christian Fittipaldi (Team Brazil).
(Picture A1GP.com)
Salvador Duran (Team Mexico).
(Picture A1GP.com)
The Team Ireland pit crew at work.
(Picture A1GP.com)