McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton topped first practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
The Briton registered a best of 1:23.865 at the tail end of his morning’s running, some nine-tenths quicker than teammate Jenson Button.
Indeed, Button struggled to find a consistent balance with MP4-26 throughout the session. McLaren would spend much of their time working on rear wing set-up’s, aiming – like everyone – to ascertain the finest low drag solution for the super fast 3.6 mile circuit.
Both Red Bull’s enjoyed longer stints than the McLaren pair, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber ending the session 1.3 and 1.6 seconds shy of Hamilton respectively. The reigning champions arrived at Monza with an upgraded floor, as they battle on a circuit unsuited to the peculiarities of the RB7.
A relatively straight-forward morning for Adrian Sutil saw he Force India man garner 5th on the sheets, albeit 2.6 seconds off of the top spot. Teammate Nico Hulkenberg sat in for Paul di Resta, ending three-tenths and seven places back.
Less than a tenth off of Sutil was Renault’s Vitaly Petrov. The Russian completed twenty laps in his R31 – three fewer than teammate Bruno Senna, who found himself 16th and a further eight-tenths adrift.
Some bodywork and front wing updates were the centre of Ferrari’s focus, helping Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa to 7th and 8th, just ahead of the Ferrari-powered Sergio Perez (Sauber) and Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso). Alguersuari’s teammate, Sebastien Buemi, suffered a dramatic spin at Ascari – the Swiss pilot managed a best of 1:27.433 during his twenty-five lap practice.
Michael Schumacher led Mercedes’ charge in 11th, despite a spin and a trip through the gravel. The “German squad from England” concentrated mostly on high fuel stints through first practice as they aim to solve some early race issues.
Heikki Kovalainen was, unsurprisingly, the quickest of the new-ish teams, despite only completing ten laps for his Team Lotus squad. The Finn pulled off track mid-session due to gearbox breakage.
Fellow Lotus runner, Karun Chandhok also had a tough session. While sitting in for Jarno Trulli, Chandhok lost a rearview mirror on his outlap, before suffering electronic glitches on his steering wheel. A spin at the opening chicane late-on summed up the Indian’s practice.
Virgin Racing also had a difficult opening ninety minutes – engine problems for Jerome d’Ambrosio and sensor issues for Timo Glock limited running for the pair, leaving them rooted to the bottom of the time sheets.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.865s 18 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.786s + 0.921 19 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m25.231s + 1.366 25 4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m25.459s + 1.594 24 5. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m26.550s + 2.685 23 6. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m26.625s + 2.760 20 7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m26.647s + 2.782 20 8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m26.676s + 2.811 24 9. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.694s + 2.829 28 10. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.696s + 2.831 15 11. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m26.699s + 2.834 21 12. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m26.826s + 2.961 21 13. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m26.836s + 2.971 25 14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.996s + 3.131 29 15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m27.365s + 3.500 25 16. Bruno Senna Renault 1m27.385s + 3.520 23 17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m27.433s + 3.568 25 18. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m27.492s + 3.627 24 19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m29.539s + 5.674 10 20. Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault 1m30.148s + 6.283 19 21. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m30.609s + 6.744 27 22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m30.619s + 6.754 24 23. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m31.052s + 7.187 12 24. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m31.899s + 8.034 22