Italian leads the way in Monza

Luca Filippi gave the local fans something to cheer about by setting the pace in this morning’s free practice session in Monza: the Italian was one tenth to the good over Fabio Leimer, with 2011 champion Romain Grosjean a further two tenths back.

Filippi set the pace early on and then improved his times throughout the session: his best lap of 1:32.018 was set at the halfway mark and gave his rivals an untouchable benchmark for the remainder of their track time, despite much of the field improving on their earlier best laps.

The session opened with the sun blazing overhead: Filippi was on the pace immediately, with Julian Leal and Luiz Razia swapping the top spot with him until the Italian really got going. Grosjean, however, seemed lost as he struggled to hold his car on track: the Frenchman was soon in for his team to take a look at the car and find a solution to his woes.

Despite the fast nature of the circuit there was little in the way of problems for the field: apart from Grosjean’s waywardness, soon sorted when he returned from the pits, only Johnny Cecotto stopped on track after spinning off at the Parabolica, while Leal spun to a halt at the second chicane late in the session and Michael Herck also stopping there as the clock ran out.

Jules Bianchi was the next man behind the top three, losing third to Grosjean with a minute remaining but staying ahead of Charles Pic, Max Chilton, Alvaro Parente and Giedo van der Garde. With 12 drivers within a second of the top time, and 24 within 2 seconds, the stage is set for a titanic battle for pole position this afternoon.

Monza – Free Practice

  Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Luca Filippi Scuderia Coloni 1:32.018

14

2. Fabio Leimer Rapax 1:32.128

13

3. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:32.316

14

4. Jules Bianchi Lotus ART 1:32.496

14

5. Charles Pic Barwa Addax Team 1:32.611

13

6. Max Chilton Carlin 1:32.700

12

7. Alvaro Parente Carlin 1?32.803

14

8. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 1:32.866

13

9. Luiz Razia Caterham Team AirAsia 1:32.890

13

10. Sam Bird iSport International 1:32.899

12

11. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus ART 1:32.944

13

12. Jolyon Palmer Arden International 1:33.115

15

13. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1:33.127

14

14. Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni 1:33.155

15

15. Pal Varhaug Dams 1:33.346

14

16. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 1:33.393

15

17. Brendon Hartley Ocean Racing Technology 1:33.410

13

18. Adam Carroll Super Nova Racing 1:33.422

14

19 Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova Racing 1:33.448

16

20. Davide Valsecchi Caterham Team AirAsia 1:33.569

13

21. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:33.588

14

22. Julian Leal Rapax 1:33.628

9

23. Josef Kral Arden International 1:33.756

14

24. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:33.757

12

25. Stéphane Richelmi Trident Racing 1:34.935

8

26. Johnny Cecotto Ocean Racing Technology 1:39.331

2