Italian GP – Massa fourth and Alonso fifth on Friday at Monza
Monza, 9 September – Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull led the way in the second session of free practice for the Italian Grand Prix with a lap of 1.24.010. Just behind him came the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton (1.24.046) and the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher (1.24.347), followed in 4th and 5th positions by the Ferraris of Felipe Massa (1.24.366) and Fernando Alonso (1.24.433). The team used the afternoon session to evaluate different levels of downforce and to compare the two different tyre compounds – first Medium, then Soft – on offer from Pirelli for the Italian circuit.
The protagonists will next take to the track tomorrow morning at 11am for the third and final session of free practice ahead of the 13th round of the Formula 1 world championship.
Italian GP – Warming up in the Royal Park
Monza, 9 September – It seems the world has been talking about little else but the Italian Grand Prix since Sunday night in Spa-Francorchamps a fortnight ago. Now, finally the talking can stop as the action has begun at the most charismatic venue on the calendar, the Monza circuit, which today staged the first three hours of free practice for this, the thirteenth round of the World Championship. Superstitions aside, the Prancing Horse tifosi around the world are hoping it will be a case of “Lucky 13” come Sunday afternoon. However, today is a time for laying the groundwork and preparing as well as possible and at Monza, that is always a slightly different job to usual. This is because the high speed nature of the track demands a low drag configuration to produce excellent top speed for the fast straights, fighting against the need for enough downforce to ensure the brakes can slow the car through the slow chicanes. So, Fernando and Felipe were tasked with evaluating different wings front and rear, as well as various different set-ups on the 150º Italia, to generate masses of data, which the engineers will evaluate long into the night. The data comes from a total of 108 laps; 51 from Fernando and 57 from Felipe.
One area that saw a lot of ink flow after the Belgian Grand Prix centred on the well known fact that the Ferrari car does not like cold conditions, as it struggles to get tyres up to temperature quickly enough to be quick on the opening laps. Pirelli has brought the same Medium and Soft compounds it used at Spa, but finally, after a dismal summer of wet and cold race weekends, the Monza weather gods seem determined to close the European season in hot style: the track temperature hit 40º Celsius with ambient temperatures in the Royal Park going past the 30 mark: already today, it was clear that the Ferraris were enjoying the benefits of hotter rubber.
Topping the time sheet was reigning world champion and current series leader, Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull, followed by the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton. If the sight of Michael Schumacher in third place on the results sheet looks surprising, it is not really, because all season long it has been clear that the Mercedes has excellent top speed and that’s what the German was able to prove again today. Behind the Prancing Horse duo in sixth place is the second Red Bull of Mark Webber.