Monza Practice 1: Schumacher fastest early on
7 September, 2012
Sep.7 (Apex) As a Ferrari driver he was idolised at Monza. These days there is perhaps less of the deification, but Michael Schumacher gave the tifosi a reminder of the glory days, albeit using a Mercedes to do so, by going fastest of all in the first free practice session of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Just after the midway mark of the ninety minute session Schumacher set the fastest time of anyone – by half a second, displacing the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso from the top spot on the timing screens. The time of 1 minute 25.422 seconds stood as the benchmark for the rest of the session.
Clearly the tifosi have not forgotten the great service Schumacher provided during his record breaking era with the Maranello squad.
“Michael we love you” and “Michael, we will always be with you” were among the banners, some in Italian, testifying to his continuing adoration of a driver who won five of his seven championships with Ferrari.
Belgian GP winner Jenson Button was next best, 0.301 seconds down on the Schumacher’s best, and good enough to prevent the Silver Arrows pair from hogging the top two places at the end of session as Nico Rosberg was third fastest, a mere 0.039 seconds down on the McLaren driver – Mercedes powering the top three.
Next up were the Ferrari pair, with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa fourth and fifth respectively. Concerns developed for Ferrari with less than 10 minutes left of the session, as Alonso parked the F2012 out on track.
Ferrari explained on Twitter: “It looks like an engine problem for Fernando. Similar to what happened to Felipe in Spa.”
For Lewis Hamilton, the only way to escape the incessant questions regarding his future was by donning on his helmet and going out to do what he does best, namely drive fast. The controversy prone Brit was sixth fastest, racking up 30 laps of Monza – more than anyone else in the session, although Button did notch up 29 tours.
Kimi Raikkonen was fastest of the Renault powered brigade with the seventh best time, in the Lotus. His regular teammate Romain Grosjean, slapped with a one race ban after his Spa shenanigans, was in the paddock but not in the cockpit. On duty, on track, was the team’s Belgian reserve driver Jerome D’Ambrosio who spent the session dialling himself in. He was a second off Raikkonen’s best in 15th place, but he will pleased to have got serious mileage under his belt as his only other track time with the E20 was during a wet day of testing at Mugello in May.
Fastest of the Sauber pair, both of whom suffered dreadful misfortune at Spa, was Sergio Perez, with the eighth best time while Kamui Kobayashi was 14th fastest.
Williams ‘bad boy’ Pastor Maldonado was 10th quickest. He starts the weekend on the back foot with two penalties meaning he will drop ten places on the grid, as punishment for his misadventures during the Belgian GP weekend. The Venezuelan’s session also ended early as the Williams coasted to a halt close to the end of the session.
Williams reserve Valterri Bottas was fastest of the Friday drivers on duty in the morning session with the 13th best time. He was in the cockpit of Bruno Senna’s FW34.
Paul di Resta was a spectator while Jules Bianchi drove the Force India. Bianchi ended the session 16th.
Qing Hua Ma made history by becoming the first Chinese driver to compete in an official F1 session when he took over Narain Karthikeyan’s HRT for the first free practice session. Hua Ma was slowest of all.
Subbed by AJN.
Italian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 7 September 2012
|9||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.390||0.968||24|
|11||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.508||1.086||18|
|12||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.518||1.096||21|
|16||11||Jules Bianchi||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.192||1.770||22|
|23||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:29.331||3.909||21|
|24||23||Qing Hua Ma||HRT-Cosworth||1:31.239||5.817||26|
- Practice 2: Maldonado fastest as rain arrives in force at Hockenheim
- Practice 1: Button sets early pace as McLaren show promise
- Practice 3: Alonso fastest as Silverstone circuit finally dries up
- Shanghai Practice 2: Schumacher ends day one fastest of all
- Melbourne Practice 2: Schumacher fastest in topsy turvy session