ferrari-logo-2011Italian GP – Head down and heading for qualifying

Monza,6 September – The first day of the Italian Grand Prix got off to a very summery start, with the second practice session taking place in 30 degree heat. Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest in a time of 1.25.330. Felipe Massa was eighth with a best time of 1.25.519.

Both drivers started the session on the Hard tyre, with Alonso doing 8 laps (fastest 1.25.543) and Massa twelve (1.25.897.) After half an hour they switched to the Medium, on which both men set their fastest times of the session. After that, it was time for the usual long runs, with different programmes for Fernando and Felipe. However, the Brazilian’s run was cut short thirteen minutes from the end, when he suffered a gearbox problem which the team are investigating.

Overall, Fernando did 38 laps, with Felipe having 29 to his name. Sebastian Vettel was fastest with a 1.24.453.

Italian GP – A hot start

Monza 6 September – It always seems fitting that the Royal Park of Monza, with its fantastic history of racing, should provide the backdrop to the final race of the season to take place on the Old Continent and so far, the weather gods have decided to make it look particularly lovely, with warm weather and sunny blue skies.

In these conditions, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa lapped the 5.793 kilometre track a total of 108 times. The Spaniard ended up fifth quickest, having completed 63 of those laps, which is ten more than Sunday’s race distance. The Brazilian managed just 45, as his afternoon session ended prematurely with a gearbox problem. He was eighth fastest. If the F138s and the other twenty cars on track look different to usual, that’s because they are all running in “Monza configuration,” which means they sport the smallest wings giving the least aero downforce of the season. The first time the cars rush down those long straights at the highest speeds of the year is a breathtaking sight, even from inside the cockpit. Apart from these changes, the Scuderia was also trying other updates here and, with the exception of Felipe’s gearbox glitch, it was a trouble-free day.

Finding out how the Hard and Medium compound Pirellis work over a long run was a key item on today’s job list, because the high speed nature of this circuit means that making as few pit stops as possible is usually a winning formula. Sebastian Vettel was fastest overall in the Red Bull, the only man to break the 1m 25 second barrier and a staggering six tenths faster than his team-mate Mark Webber who was second on the afternoon time sheet. Ahead of Fernando were Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, respectively third and fourth for Lotus.

Now we can look forward to tomorrow and one of the highlights of the season, featuring the fastest qualifying laps of the year.

Italian GP – A delicate balance

Monza,6 September – Lewis Hamilton was quickest, with a lap in 1.25.565 in the first free practice session for the Italian Grand Prix, the twelfth round of the Formula 1 World Championship. Second this morning, at what will be the 79th edition of this race, was Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari with a time of 1.25.600, while the Englishman’s team-mate, Nico Rosberg was third for Mercedes in 1.25.704. In the other F138, Felipe Massa ended the session in fourteenth place (1.26.449.) As usual on Fridays, the programme centred on a comparison of different aerodynamic configurations for both Ferrari men, who each used just one set of Hard tyres during the session.