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Friday, May 9, 2008

Turkey: Ferrari leads in practice

Felipe Massa took the morning session, and teammate Kimi Raikkonen overtook gearbox issues to top the afternoon sheets, as Ferrari and McLaren battled for supremacy in Friday practice for the Turkish Grand Prix.

Heikki Kovalainen put his Barcelona crash behind him and set the second fastest time in the morning practice session, while Lewis Hamilton split the Ferraris in the afternoon.

Behind the leaders was a mish-mash of mid-tier teams, with no cream rising to the top.

Title challengers BMW Sauber seemed to make steady progress in both sessions, but there is still a gap for Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld to close if they are to challenge the frontrunners.

David Coulthard pulled off a surprising fourth in the afternoon while teammate Mark Webber found himself in the wall, bringing out a brief red flag.

In what might have been the oddest decision of the day, race organizers chose to hit the racing line with track-cleaning fluid just prior to the first session, and it was 40 minutes before the first lap time would be recorded.

Alonso: Safety should be for everyone

Echoing beliefs held by many of us, Fernando Alonso said he is at a loss to understand the lack of interest shown by several of the sport's top drivers in the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA).

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa all do not participate in the organization, it has emerged in recent weeks.

Alonso said in an interview with autosport.com he recognizes it is each driver’s decision to participate, but he has trouble understanding why drivers wouldn’t be interested in taking part in an organization dedicated to their own safety. Amen.

Alonso’s opinion echos similar remarks made by Jarno Trulli earlier in the week.

Brawn defends Fry

Ross Brawn believes suggestions Honda could have done more to help save Super Aguri are misguided.

During the Friday press conference, the Honda boss also rejected the opinion Nick Fry had played too big a role in the Japanese team’s departure.

Fry had been openly critical of the Weigl Group bid, and reportedly had a hand in getting the team barred from the Istanbul paddock.

Aguri Suzuki has been critical of Fry’s role in the proceedings. In contrast, Brawn said the Briton had done more than most to find a solution after the Magma deal fell through.

Perhaps what irked Suzuki were not Fry’s actions as a representative of Honda, but rather his pontification in the media.

Button plans to stay with Honda

Jenson Button said he plans to remain with Honda in 2009 in an interview with the official F1 Web site.

Button’s contract runs out at the end of the season, but the Englishman says he is happy where he is.

Nick Fry was previously quoted in Australia saying the two sides were working on a deal.

Given his history with contracts, perhaps we are seeing an older, wiser Jenson Button.

A woman in F1?

In the wake of Danica Patrick’s IndyCar win in Japan, several of Formula One’s team bosses said Friday they would welcome a woman in the sport is she were competitive.

The question was raised in the Friday press conference, which included Toyota’s John Howett, Honda’s Ross Brawn, and Mercedes’ Norbert Haug.

Howett said the win proves what an extremely talented woman can accomplish in motor racing, and that the possibility was there for such a woman to compete in F1, as teams are primarily focused on performance and results.

Brawn agreed, saying it would be great for the sport so long as she were competitive.

Haug also said he saw no reason a woman couldn’t be successful in Formula One, and that Indy and DTM have proven that.

Three women currently race in IndyCar -- Patrick, Sarah Fisher and Milka Duno. Katherine Legge formerly ran in the Champ Car series, and currently runs in DTM.

Haug was also quick to point out McLaren put Fisher in a car in 2002. However, in fairness, that was in the form of a promotional opportunity for Tag Heuer, and she did not drive in anger.

Patrick said recently she turned down a similar opportunity, and would only want a proper test. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six

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