Italian GP: McLaren Merecedes Friday practice report

LEWIS HAMILTON MP4-24-04 P1 programme 26 laps 1m23.936s (1st) P2 programme 32 laps 1m24.902s (11th) Lewis conducted four runs this morning as he evaluated MP4-24's low-downforce Monza package and back-to-backed a number of aero components.

LEWIS HAMILTON
MP4-24-04

P1 programme
26 laps
1m23.936s (1st)

P2 programme
32 laps
1m24.902s (11th)

Lewis conducted four runs this morning as he evaluated MP4-24's low-downforce Monza package and back-to-backed a number of aero components. Despite losing a piece of bodywork (a right-hand-side fuel-filler cap) on his first lap, he was immediately on the pace, topping the timesheets for the whole session. He completed runs of three laps/1m24.632s best, four laps/1m24.147s, five laps/1m23.936s and three laps/1m24.920s.

The afternoon's session also started with a slight hiccup when Lewis flat-spotted his tyres under braking for the Variante della Roggia and pitted early to avoid the excessive vibration. Nonetheless, he enjoyed another productive session, tweaking the set-up and evaluating both tyre compounds while running heavier fuel-loads. He conducted Prime-tyre runs of one lap/1m31.930s, 10 laps/1m25.099s before switching to Options and setting best times of 1m24.902s (nine laps) and 1m24.920s (three laps).

"I'm pleased with our progress," said Lewis. "It's always a little nerve-wracking when you arrive at a unique circuit such as this because you want to see if you've taken the right direction with the car's aerodynamics. But this morning's session showed us that the engineers had made a very accurate assessment of what would be needed. KERS certainly helps around here -- we can expect it to be worth nearly four tenths in qualifying tomorrow -- but we also made some good progress with our overall package. This afternoon was spent on heavier fuel-loads, so you can't read too much into the times, but I'm encouraged by where we are."

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN
MP4-24-03

P1 programme
27 laps
1m24.332s (2nd)

P2 programme
41 laps
1m24.482s (4th)

A strong day for Heikki, who underlined the solid foundations of MP4-24's low-downforce spec by finishing the day's sessions in second and fourth place. He started the morning working to neutralise the set-up of the car, becoming increasingly happy with the balance as the session progressed -- he set times of 1m25.133s/six laps, 1m24.332s/six laps and 1m24.492s/eight laps.

For P2, he once again declared himself happy with the balance, setting times of 1m25.311s/five laps and 1m25.164s/nine laps before switching to Options and recording a 12-lap long run (1m25.320s), a 1m24.482s/four laps and a final single-lap run of 1m24.865s.

Heikki said: "At Monza, you're always facing the problem of balancing overall downforce with grip through the corners -- and I think today was possibly better than we anticipated. We're quicker in the corners than we were last year, which is good.

"The KERS advantage here is nearly four tenths per lap so it's really helpful along the straights and out of the slower corners. Others have more downforce compared with us, but we have this fantastic KERS from Mercedes-Benz. It's funny: the teams have all adopted different technical solutions but the laptimes are still very close together -- that's the beauty of Formula 1."

MARTIN WHITMARSH
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"A disciplined day's work for the team today as we evaluated our low-downforce Monza aero components and looked at tyre performance on heavier fuel loads. We're encouraged by the results of today's programme, but are fully aware that all teams will be making substantial changes overnight and, equally, we'll need to further adapt our cars ahead of qualifying. Nonetheless, we're encouraged by the direction we've taken and the results we've seen in both of today's sessions."

NORBERT HAUG
Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Two good and productive sessions for us today. As we've all learned over the course of this season, the field is very tight. Heikki in fourth is separated from Giancarlo Fisichella in 20th position by just over a second, and all 20 cars are within 1.6 seconds. Our long runs on high fuel loads looked quite promising compared with our competitors, but I seriously think there are a handful of teams who can compete for pole tomorrow."

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella
Teams Mercedes , McLaren