2011 Italian Grand Prix (Rd 13, Free Practice 1, Sept 9th, TV Notes)

Monza. © Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

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

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