Switzerland Set the Pace in Chengdu

A1GP Chengdu, China (Round 2 of 10)

The A1GP Powered by Ferrari cars took to the Chengdu International Circuit in China for the first time today. Nicolas Prost started the day as the quickest rookie and reigning champion Switzerland set the pace this afternoon with Neel Janis time of 1m 16.349s.

In an incident-packed first day on track, the rookies and developing nations were joined in the opening official practice session by USA and India, the teams yet to complete the same amount of testing mileage as the other teams. Indias Narain Karthikeyan topped the timesheet with a 1m16.710s, as the team began to make up for lost time after missing the season-opener at Zandvoort, but Frances Nicolas Prost was the quickest rookie.

It went pretty well, said the 27-year-old Frenchman making his A1GP race debut this weekend. We had a small problem in the first session with the engine and a little spin, but it was good and I got a grasp of the track pretty quickly. Its good to be up there right at the beginning though. Im not really used to this kind of bumpy track but I think this is the same for everyone. The track is pretty interesting and the bumps make it even more interesting so you just have to deal with it. Prost, who is taking over race driver duties from Zandvoort Feature race winner Loc Duval didnt know if he was more excited or nervous about tomorrow. He added: There is a lot of pressure on me, of course, but the team understand that its my first race so Im just going to try to do as good as I can and see what happens.

Thirty-minutes into the official practice session this afternoon, the first red flag came out as Malaysia was stranded out on track after a spin. France had initially set the pace, but after the session was re-started Switzerland went quicker and remained at the top despite two more red flags caused by local favourite Chinas Ho-Pin Tung.

This afternoon was the first time I have ever driven on this circuit but its very bumpy and dirty at the moment, said the Swiss driver, so its just been about finding the quickest line for us, which wasnt always the traditional ideal line as everyone seemed to be taking alternative quick routes.

It will definitely be one of the hardest A1GP races so far because its so easy to make mistakes on the bumps. That one qualifying lap will be something in between playing it safe and finding the limit of the car.

Tung said: Although its our home race, this track is also new for me so we are still learning and will make some further set-up changes in order to improve the cars stability over the bumps.

After making a flying start to the day, India carried the momentum into the afternoon, finishing third just 0.125-secomds behind Switzerland with South Africas Adrian Zaugg posting a quick time towards the end of his run to move up to fourth.

Former F1 driver, Robert Doornbos made his A1 Team Netherlands debut, finishing fifth while Marco Andretti made a promising start on his debut for the USA in eighth, just 0.834-seconds adrift of Jani.

As well as allowing India and the USA in the Rookie sessions to increase there testing mileage, there were also two hours of additional running for them and  Great Britain. A1 Team GBRs Danny Watts commented: We have a good set up at this early stage. Were not really worried too much about lap time we just want to make sure we have the car set up correctly and make sure everything is ok.

A1 Team Mexicos David Garza also got his first taste of the A1GP Powered by Ferrari car, but as his own car was still not ready he did this in A1 Team Switzerlands machine. The Mexican team has also been allocated additional running on Saturday.

Official Practice Session 1 Rookie drivers and developing nations only Part 1

POS  A1 TEAM  DRIVER  TIME  GAP FIRST  LAPS1 GREAT BRITAIN  Danny WATTS 01:17.934 - 102 INDIA  Narain KARTHIKEYAN 01:17.966 0.032 93 SWITZERLAND  Alexandre IMPERATORI 01:18.292 0.358 124 BRAZIL  Felipe GUIMARAES 01:18.625 0.691 135 FRANCE  Nicolas PROST 01:18.802 0.868 126 USA  Marco ANDRETTI 01:18.828 0.894 117 NEW ZEALAND  Chris VAN DER DRIFT 01:19.335 1.401 168 ITALY  Christian MONTANARI 01:19.346 1.412 199 NETHERLANDS  Dennis RETERA 01:20.303 2.369 910 INDONESIA  Zahir ALI 01:20.356 2.422 1311 LEBANON  Daniel MORAD 01:20.952 3.018 912 IRELAND  Niall QUINN 01:21.480 3.546 1213 MALAYSIA  Aaron LIM 01:22.402 4.468 1114 KOREA  Jin Woo HWANG 01:22.981 5.047 7

Official Practice Session 1 Rookie drivers and developing nations only Part 2

POS  TEAM  DRIVER  TIME  GAP FIRST  LAPS1 INDIA  Narain KARTHIKEYAN 01:16.710 - 162 FRANCE  Nicolas PROST 01:16.722 0.012 113 SWITZERLAND  Alexandre IMPERATORI 01:17.262 0.552 184 BRAZIL  Felipe GUIMARAES 01:17.310 0.6 175 NEW ZEALAND  Chris VAN DER DRIFT 01:17.460 0.75 166 USA  Marco ANDRETTI 01:17.528 0.818 157 INDONESIA  Zahir ALI 01:17.936 1.226 208 ITALY  Christian MONTANARI 01:18.048 1.338 179 LEBANON  Daniel MORAD 01:18.166 1.456 1010 IRELAND  Niall QUINN 01:18.486 1.776 1411 NETHERLANDS  Dennis RETERA 01:18.826 2.116 1612 MALAYSIA  Aaron LIM 01:19.473 2.763 1513 GREAT BRITAIN  Danny WATTS 014 KOREA  Jin Woo HWANG 0

Official Practice session 2

POS  A1 TEAM  DRIVER  TIME  GAP FIRST  LAPS1 SWITZERLAND  Neel JANI 01:16.349 - 252 FRANCE  Nicolas PROST 01:16.446 0.097 213 INDIA  Narain KARTHIKEYAN 01:16.474 0.125 74 SOUTH AFRICA  Adrian ZAUGG 01:16.557 0.208 265 NETHERLANDS  Robert DOORNBOS 01:16.558 0.209 266 GREAT BRITAIN  Danny WATTS 01:16.601 0.252 197 PORTUGAL  Filipe ALBUQUERQUE 01:17.059 0.71 258 USA  Marco ANDRETTI 01:17.183 0.834 209 IRELAND  Adam CARROLL 01:17.183 0.834 2410 MALAYSIA  Fairuz FAUZY 01:17.200 0.851 2711 BRAZIL  Felipe GUIMARAES 01:17.234 0.885 2012 AUSTRALIA  John MARTIN 01:17.323 0.974 3113 LEBANON  Daniel MORAD 01:17.469 1.12 1814 NEW ZEALAND  Chris VAN DER DRIFT 01:17.683 1.334 1915 ITALY  Edoardo PISCOPO 01:18.136 1.787 2916 MONACO  Clivio PICCIONE 01:18.233 1.884 2817 CHINA  Ho Pin TUNG 01:18.668 2.319 2218 INDONESIA  Satrio HERMANTO 01:19.031 2.682 3019 KOREA  Jin Woo HWANG 01:20.541 4.192 21