Drivers give Indy the thumbs up

Grand Prix drivers have given Indianapolis a big thumbs up after the first day's practice

Drivers give Indy the thumbs up

But several said the banking on the final bend, being seen in the sport for the first time, had not lived up to its hype.

World champion Mika Hakkinen was one of the most enthusiastic about the new 2.6 mile circuit as the sport makes its return to the USA after a nine-year absence.

"Mika likes the circuit quite a lot," said team boss Ron Dennis. "We're all quite surprised he is so enthusiastic about it. He says it's good."

The Finn was second quickest at the end of the first day's practice with the times topped by team-mate David Coulthard.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who was fifth, was equally upbeat but said the infield was too twisty and the nine degree banking on the final bend, which is at the start of the longest flat-out straight in Formula 1, was easy.

"I'm enjoying being here. It's a different feeling but the circuit is too twisty at the end of the pit straight," he said.

"The banking is not challenging but it's fun and enjoyable."

Alexander Wurz, Benetton's outgoing driver, agreed. "The track is incredibly slippery and the banking is interesting but it is easy to take flat. The infield section is tight and slow."

Frentzen's Jordan team-mate Jarno Trulli, two places further down the order in seventh, was having fun too. "It's been good - a lot of fun.

"The banking is a different feeling the first time you do it because you are up an angle but after a while you get used to it."

Jaguar ace Eddie Irvine admitted he was surprised by the layout. "Having walked it and driven it today it's a lot tighter than I thought.

"It has a good mix of high speed and tight turns. It's tricky and tight - a lot of fun."

Pedro de la Rosa, who's F1 future will be announced by Arrows later on today, said: "It's a wonderful facility. The environment, everything is the best."

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