Friday, 12 September 2008

Italian Grand Prix: Friday Practice

Kimi Raikkonen ended the day at the top of the timesheets after a severely rain-interrupted first day of action in Monza. The first session was all but a total washout, with only the second session seeing any meaningful running from the teams. If it rains like it did during fist practice, we may be lucky to get a race at all on Sunday!

Not much to report from the first session other than rain, rain, rain.

And then some more rain.

There was hardly any meaningful running throughout the session, with neither McLaren even bothering to set a lap time. The only incident of note was Kazuki Nakajima putting his Williams into a gravel trap and ending his session barely before it had begun. The rain got so bad towards the end that the pit lane drains were all overflowing, and the session was red-flagged. The early stoppage meant that Sutil and Fisichella were the fastest two drivers of the day in their Force Indias!

First Practice Times

01 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:32.842 18 laps
02 R. Barrichello Honda 1:33.428 14 laps
03 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:33.695 19 laps
04 T. Glock Toyota 1:36.800 13 laps
05 N. Rosberg Williams 1:36.900 9 laps
06 F. Alonso Renault 1:36.965 10 laps
07 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:37.142 20 laps
08 J. Trulli Toyota 1:37.214 13 laps
09 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:37.392 5 laps
10 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:37.754 13 laps
11 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:38.057 11 laps
12 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:38.303 7 laps
13 J. Button Honda 1:39.062 12 laps
14 F. Massa Ferrari 1:40.233 5 laps
15 N. Heidfeld BMW no time 1 lap
16 K. Nakajima Williams no time 2 laps
17 R. Kubica BMW no time 1 lap
18 H. Kovalainen McLaren no time 1 lap
19 M. Webber Red Bull no time 1 lap
20 L. Hamilton McLaren no time 1 lap

The second session was far more interesting, with the track now starting to dry. As you would expect the times tumbled throughout the session, and there was plenty of running from all the major teams as they sought to make up for lost time from the first session washout.

As the track dried out and more and more rubber was laid down the lead changed hands more times than could be remembered, but by the end of it Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen took the Friday honours. His success came on the back of some great news for Kimi and his Finnish fans, as it was announced just before the session that he has signed an extension to his current contract which will take him to the end of 2010. I'm not sure how great that news is for the Tifosi, because to be honest Kimi really hasn't looked the part for most of this season. It certainly isn't good news for Fernando Alonso, the man who many thought would be the man to take over from Kimi in 2010. His options for the future seem to be narrowing somewhat, with BMW now being a likely destination for the Spaniard.

The BMW's looked very quick in the second session, finishing 2nd and 3rd. Kubica edged out Nick Heidfeld, the man most believe will have to make way for Alonso if the rumoured move is to take place. Kubica did have a rather spectacular spin into the second chicane towards the end of the session, but no lasting damage done. Lewis Hamilton was fourth for McLaren in a fairly solid performance for the young Brit. It was a very close session all round though, with the top four drivers separated by barely more than a tenth of a second.

Title contender Felipe Massa was a little further adrift down in sixth place, with Williams' Nico Rosberg getting himself between Massa and Hamilton in fifth with a good performance. Force India surprisingly managed to continue their "good form" from first practice, with Adrian Sutil actually making it into the top 10 on merit in 9th place. Toyota seem to have taken something of a step back in terms of pace compared to earlier in the season, as Trulli and Glock looked terribly slow as they did in Spa. Hopefully for them that means that they are merely focusing all their development attention on 2009. Renault too looked pretty dismal, with Alonso way down in 18th and Nelson Piquet dead last after an embarrassing spin at the Retifilio left him wedged high and dry on the speed bumps, meaning he needed rescuing by the marshalls!

Practice Two Times

01 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:23.861 31 laps
02 R. Kubica BMW 1:23.931 26 laps
03 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:23.947 29 laps
04 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:23.983 25 laps
05 N. Rosberg Williams 1:24.110 33 laps
06 F. Massa Ferrari 1:24.247 34 laps
07 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:24.365 29 laps
08 M. Webber Red Bull 1:24.521 35 laps
09 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:24.669 22 laps
10 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:24.773 35 laps
11 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:25.100 25 laps
12 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:25.192 39 laps
13 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:25.204 24 laps
14 R. Barrichello Honda 1:25.296 25 laps
15 J. Button Honda 1:25.309 34 laps
16 K. Nakajima Williams 1:25.330 28 laps
17 T. Glock Toyota 1:25.397 28 laps
18 F. Alonso Renault 1:25.481 22 laps
19 J. Trulli Toyota 1:25.753 29 laps
20 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:26.195 23 laps

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