McLaren on top in Italian GP last practice

McLaren on top in Italian GP last practice

McLaren carried through its performance from Friday practices to Saturday at Monza when Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton scored another one-two at the top of the time sheet in the last practice session for the Italian Grand Prix. Alonso's best...

McLaren carried through its performance from Friday practices to Saturday at Monza when Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton scored another one-two at the top of the time sheet in the last practice session for the Italian Grand Prix. Alonso's best was 1:22.054 and Hamilton was a tenth and a half behind. Ferrari's Felipe Massa was third but his teammate Kimi Raikkonen suffered a heavy crash. The Finn appears to be fine, although his car was badly damaged.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes, MP4-22.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The track temperature was edging towards 30 degrees as the cars went out for installation laps. Super Aguri's Takuma Sato was the first to go for a timed lap and clocked 1:26.178 and was the only man on track for a while after the rest returned to the garages. Ten minutes further in the Spykers of Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto reappeared to take second and third respectively.

Sutil then posted 1:25.914 for the top and the Toyotas of Janro Trulli and Ralf Schumacher rejoined the track along with the BMW Saubers of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld. It wasn't long before others started spooling back out, including the Williams duo of Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz.

Trulli's 1:24.589 was then the benchmark and Schumacher was seven tenths off in second. Heidfeld started with a 1:24.353 and meanwhile the Toro Rossos of Sebastian Vettel and Tonio Liuzzi, the Hondas of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello and Anthony Davidson's Super Aguri were making their way back on to the circuit.

Liuzzi took third and Davidson fourth, followed by Vettel into fifth. Rosberg demoted Heidfeld with a 1:23.852, two tenths up, and he then improved to 1:23.454. It was short lived as Hamilton's McLaren went straight to the top on his first flyer, 1:23.096, and teammate Alonso took second, a tenth off.

The Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella started in the midfield and Massa's Ferrari slotted in behind Alonso for third. But the second scarlet car of Raikkonen was on a hot lap when it hit the barriers then impacted heavily into the tyre wall heading into Ascari, bringing out the red flags. Thankfully the Finn appeared to be unharmed and exited the car unaided.

It seemed that something failed on the Ferrari, as it jinked to the right for no apparent reason, but Raikkonen said later that it just locked under braking. The car was craned away and Raikkonen went back to the garage, so presumably didn't need any medical attention. At that point, half way through, only Kubica and Renault's Heikki Kovalainen had yet to set a time.

There was a delay of nearly 20 minutes until the track went green again, which left little time for any meaningful running. Alonso was the first to improve his time, taking the top with a 1:22.494 and Hamilton was half a tenth behind. The Red Bulls of Mark Webber and David Coulthard improved in formation to ninth and 11th respectively.

Rosberg was fourth behind Massa and Vettel a surprising fifth, albeit over a second off the lead pace. He was followed by Fisichella and the BMWs, then Trulli improved to fifth. Kubica got on the time sheet in ninth and Kovalainen was a lowly 19th. Only the top three were in the 1:22 time zone, with Rosberg half a second off Massa.

In the last few minutes Kovalainen jumped up to sixth and Heidfeld to third, followed by Kubica to fifth. Alonso improved his time to 1:22.054 and Hamilton also improved but stayed second, a tenth and a half off his teammate. Massa regained third and Wurz was a late climber to seventh behind Rosberg. There were a few other improvements, the Hondas up to 11th and 12th, but nothing startling.

At the end it was a familiar sight, McLaren leading Ferrari leading BMW, although Raikkonen, of course, had fallen to near the back as he couldn't go back out. It seems unlikely that the Finn's car can be repaired in time for qualifying so he will probably use the spare. Final top eight classification: Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Heidfeld, Kubica, Rosberg, Wurz, Trulli.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Anthony Davidson , Fernando Alonso , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Robert Kubica , Sebastian Vettel , Sakon Yamamoto , Adrian Sutil
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Williams