Italian GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report

McLaren on top in Monza first session

Lewis Hamilton, Italian GP 2011

Lewis Hamilton, Italian GP 2011 

 © The Cahier Archive

NcLaren dominated the first session of free practice for the Italian Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton lapping in 1:24.127 and Jenson Button in 1:24.786.

Fresh from its comprehensive Spa victory, Red Bull Racing was next as Sebastian Vettel stopped the clock in 1:25.231 and Mark Webber in 1:25.459.

McLaren ran in the first session with a relatively big rear wing despite Monza demanding a one-off low downforce package. It was a tactic adopted by Jenson Button last year when he narrowly lost a race-long battle with Fernando Alonso's Ferrari.

At one stage Button had a moment on the entry to Parabolica that led to some rear wing modifications.

Although varying fuel loads and downforce experimentation mean that FP1 is early days, Ferrari sources are already tweeting that it could be a hard task to match McLaren and Red Bull for pace this weekend.

Alonso (1:26.647) and Massa (1:26.676) finished the opening period seventh and eighth, more than two and half seconds from Hamilton's pace, the pair split from the Red Bulls by Adrian Sutil's Force India (1:26.550) and Vitaly Petrov's Renault (1:26.625).

Massa's car appeared to be running a shallower rear wing angle than Alonso's, with Felipe also trying a revised front wing.

Mercedes is expected to punch above its weight this weekend due to the car's strong straightline speed but has thus far been running with heavy fuel.

Ross Brawn admitted ahead of the session that due to DRS, we are likely to see more downforce variation at Monza than usual.

"Because of the use of DRS constantly in the qualifying session, the optimum wing setting is probably different in qualifying to what it is in the race, by a reasonable margin," Brawn explained.

"So it's a question of whether you run more wing and because of DRS you are okay in qualifying and then when you get to the race when you don't have DRS everywhere, you are going to suffer a bit. It's quite a complex judgment call and I think we'll see quite a bit of variation. We're not certain which way we'll go yet."


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