Felipe Massa, Ferrari

Italian GP – Fast times but a few failures
Monza, 7 September – It’s time for Formula 1 to say farewell to Europe until some time around May next year and what better place to do it than here in the royal park of Monza. Even if you are not a Prancing Horse fan – and we accept that this can happen! – the Italian Grand Prix weekend is always one of the most atmospheric on the calendar.

Just a few days ago in Spa, Fernando Alonso had a traumatic and frightening time with that first corner crash in the Belgian Grand Prix and today, he had a slightly complicated return to the cockpit, with technical issues relating to engine, gearbox and brakes on his F2012 curtailing both the morning and afternoon sessions for the Spaniard. This explains why he only completed 39 laps over the two sessions, compared to his team-mate Felipe Massa’s 70, although it’s worth pointing out that the Brazilian Ferrari driver did more laps than any of the 24 drivers on track.

It was a day to leave the tifosi in optimistic mood, because Fernando Alonso took his F2012 to third fastest time, very close to the pace of the currently dominant McLarens, with Lewis Hamilton quickest ahead of Belgian winner, Jenson Button. And Felipe Massa was fourth.

The programme in the Scuderia garage was very full, given that apart from the normal tasks of evaluating tyre performance, finding a good set-up for qualifying and generally preparing for the race, the engineers and drivers, like those in all the teams in fact, had to try out their one-off low downforce aero packages, which only get used once a year, here in the Temple of Speed. Looking at the Friday time sheets can always be dangerous if you plan to draw a conclusion, but clearly, the top few teams are all very evenly matched. Getting everything just right in tomorrow afternoon’s qualifying – when to go out, how to run the tyre strategy and how much speed-reducing downforce to use – will be the key to a good grid position.

Italian GP – A difficult start for Fernando in Monza
It was a rather tricky day for Scuderia Ferrari and for Fernando Alonso in particular. The Spaniard’s car suffered no less than three technical problems that therefore significantly reduced the amount of track time he had. Alonso completed 39 laps, which along with the 70 attributed to team-mate Felipe Massa, means that the two F2012s did 631 kilometres on this first day of the Italian Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso: “Today almost everything happened, with various mechanical problems and we did not manage to test everything we wanted, but all the parts that failed can be changed and thanks to Felipe we have all the information we need to do well in qualifying and the race. Even if today was complicated, it was still positive: it’s good that everything happened today, because we must try and avoid any problems tomorrow and Sunday. I am optimistic about the car balance, which we did not have to change between FP1 and 2. I expect we will see different strategies in qualifying because there seems to be very little difference between the Medium and Hard tyres. In the race we will have to use both and so in the end it balances out. Compared to Spa, here we are on the pace, maybe we have a bit more downforce and make up a bit of time at the two Lesmos and the second chicane, while we are losing out in the first sector with the two long straights. We will analyse these details this evening and tomorrow we will try and improve also in terms of top speed, which was probably our weak point today.”

Felipe Massa: “A very positive day because I managed to make the most of the track time, completing all the programme we had planned for this Friday. I did a lot of laps on both types of tyre, in the morning and the afternoon, including a long run to evaluate the handling as well as possible. At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two compounds in terms of performance, as we could also see from the other drivers’ times, but we will have to see how it goes tomorrow, because the difference could become greater as the track conditions improve, which will be an important factor for qualifying and the race. I am also pleased with my lap times, as I was always up there with the quickest cars in both sessions. We will be trying to improve the car set-up still further tomorrow, but I am confident for the rest of the weekend. I am very pleased to be here in Monza in front of our fans and I really hope that this positive day is the right start to get a great result for them!”

Pat Fry: “The mechanics definitely did not have time to get bored today! We had various reliability problems on Fernando’s car that meant he was unable to get through his planned programme. It’s very unusual for us to have three problems in three separate areas – engine, brakes and gearbox – on the same day, therefore we will have to look very closely at what happened, to ensure it doesn’t happen again. As far as the gearbox and engine are concerned, they were units we were not planning to use in the race, so we will not incur any penalties tomorrow. For his part, Felipe managed to do a lot of kilometres and gathered important data for the team, both on the different aerodynamic configurations and on the behaviour of the two compounds – Hard and Medium – which Pirelli has chosen for this race. From what we could see, the field is very close and adopting the right level of aero downforce will be a key factor in qualifying and the race. As for the tyres, it’s hard to say from what we saw today which performs better: we still have an hour of free practice tomorrow to learn more.”

First session Second session
Driver Pos. Time Laps Pos. Time Laps Chassis
F. Alonso 4th 1.25.800 22 3rd 1.25.348 17 296
F. Massa 5th 1.25.861 27 4th 1.25.430 43 294

First session: air 23/26 °C, track 27/34 °C. Sunny
Second session: air 29 °C, track 40/43 °C. Sunny

Italian GP – Promising Friday for Ferrari
Monza, 7 September – A very busy day for Scuderia Ferrari which can leave the team hopeful for the rest of the Italian Grand Prix weekend. The engineers concentrated on optimising the balance of the F2012, in terms of weight distribution and aero configuration, crucial elements on the unique Monza track. As usual on Friday, the team ran a comparison of the two types of Pirelli tyre, in this case the Medium and Hard, which seem to deliver very similar performance. Fernando Alonso had a slightly complicated day on the way to good fourth and third fastest times in the two sessions, but both of them ended prematurely because of technical problems on the car. Felipe Massa also ran consistently, making the most of all three hours of practice, getting through all the programme. He ended the day fourth fastest, having been fifth in the morning. Quickest were the two McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, with Hamilton just 0.058 quicker than Alonso and 0.140 ahead of Massa.

Italian GP – A surprise at the start
Monza, 7 September – Michael Schumacher was quickest in this first session of Friday at Monza on the weekend of the Italian Grand Prix, the thirteenth round of the Formula 1 World Championship. On the track on the outskirts of Milan, the German took his Mercedes round in 1.25.422. Behind him came Jenson Button (1.25.723) for McLaren and the other Mercedes of Nico Rosberg (1.25.726.) Fernando Alonso was a strong fourth in 1.25.800 but his session ended a few minutes from the end when he had to park his F2012 at the chicane because of an engine problem. Right behind him on the time sheet is team-mate Felipe Massa in 1.25.861. As usual on a Friday, times were not a priority as the team worked on a comparison of different aerodynamic configurations.