BMW Sauber leads in Italian GP first practice

BMW Sauber leads in Italian GP first practice

BMW Sauber led the way in Friday morning's first practice for the Italian Grand Prix, third driver Sebastian Vettel nearly half a second faster than racer Robert Kubica. Vettel clocked 1:23.263 around the Monza circuit and behind Kubica was...

BMW Sauber led the way in Friday morning's first practice for the Italian Grand Prix, third driver Sebastian Vettel nearly half a second faster than racer Robert Kubica. Vettel clocked 1:23.263 around the Monza circuit and behind Kubica was Williams No.3 Alex Wurz in third.

Sebastian Vettel.
Photo by Alessio Morgese.

Both track and air temperatures were around 30 degrees at the start of the session as Super Aguri third driver Franck Montagny led out. Teammate Sakon Yamamoto followed on, along with Honda No.3 Anthony Davidson and Vettel. Toro Rosso third driver Neel Jani also joined the track and Red Bull No.3 Robert Doornbos.

Takuma Sato's Super Aguri was next out and the Williams of Wurz. Almost as soon as it begun the session was red-flagged when Davidson came to a halt in the first sector with smoke coming from the rear of the car. It took ten minutes before the Honda was cleared and the track went green again.

The McLarens of Kimi Raikkonen and Pedro de la Rosa appeared for installation laps, along with Kubica, and Montagny set the first time, 1:29.139. Doornbos, Vettel and Yamamoto slotted in behind then Jani took over with a 1:28.793. Wurz was next up, 1:26.002, and Sato took second, over a second and a half off. He was quickly replaced by Vettel, the gap 1.3.

Wurz lowered his time to 1:25.518 and Doornbos posted second but lost it to Jani, eight tenths off the lead Williams. Doornbos came back and closed the gap to Wurz fractionally and Jani did likewise to retake second, half a second off. Vettel was fourth, Montagny fifth, Yamamoto sixth and Sato seventh, then Sato moved up to fifth.

Vettel improved to second, just over a tenth down on Wurz. Doornbos and Jani, in third and fourth, were within three tenths of the pace but the other three on the time sheet were a second and more down. MF1's Tiago Monteiro and the Ferrari of Felipe Massa went out for installation laps, followed by Toyota's Jarno Trulli and the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld.

Ralf Schumacher's Toyota, Christijan Albers' MF1 and Tonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso also put in an appearance but there still wasn't much happening. With 15 minutes to go Wurz set a new best of 1:23.868 then was immediately eclipsed by Vettel, just six hundredths quicker. The Williams' of Mark Webber ad Nico Rosberg did installation laps, as did the Toro Rosso of Scott Speed.

MF1 third driver Giorgio Mondini perhaps had some problems as he didn't take to the track until near the end. Red Bull's Christian Klien did likewise but with five minutes remaining there were still only seven drivers on the time sheet. Vettel clocked 1:23.263 to leave Wurz six tenths off and Mondini and Albers joined the list in eighth and ninth respectively.

Monteiro took fifth and Kubica's BMW arrived in third but he was demoted by Jani. Raikkonen posted fifth on his first flyer and Albers improved to eighth, while Kubica moved up to second, half a second off Vettel. Raikkonen also gained a place, to fourth, but that was the session over -- less than half the field had set a time.

Of the 12 cars that did make the time sheet, six were third drivers and they were mostly the ones that put in any significant lap time. Vettel did another good job but we'll have to wait until this afternoon to see how the front runners are shaping up. Final top eight classification: Vettel, Kubica, Wurz, Raikkonen, Jani, Monteiro, Doornbos, Albers.

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Ralf Schumacher , Pedro de la Rosa , Mark Webber , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Franck Montagny , Alexander Wurz , Christijan Albers , Felipe Massa , Robert Doornbos , Scott Speed , Nico Rosberg , Neel Jani , Christian Klien , Robert Kubica , Sebastian Vettel , Giorgio Mondini , Sakon Yamamoto
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Toro Rosso , Williams