Not for the first time this season in Formula One, it was Sebastian Vettel who set the pace in the early stages, ahead of the Italian Grand Prix this weekend. As the time was ticking towards the end of second practice, the Red Bull driver impressed with two flying laps, and in doing so beat the first one he set in the same session, with a final lap time of 1:22.839.
"It was quite good today. It's a Friday, so the lap times vary and you don't know what the fuel loads are, but I'm quite confident. It looks better for us here than it did a year ago. Obviously here is no KERS this year, which helps us. We need to be patient and we'll see the true pace tomorrow."
With all the attention on the Ferrari team after their team orders hearing on Wednesday, both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, didn't quite hit the headlines for their performance in practice today. However, Alonso was quickest of the two, as he set a lap time of 1:22.915.
Although the Spaniard got off to a good start in practice, he remains cautious about the teams' chances of securing the top spots in qualifying tomorrow.
"We have seen before that Friday's results are very often turned on their head on Saturday, therefore I definitely don't want to make any predictions. We have to focus on ourselves and do our utmost in qualifying and especially on Sunday, in the race. It will not be easy, because once again, Red Bull is proving to be very competitive and McLaren seems to be as strong as predicted."
His Brazilian team mate finished in third, and nearly put Vettel under pressure, but failed to convert his flying lap into stealing the top spot, after a slight mishap on the exit of the final corner, which sent him into the gravel and off the track.
Currently second place in the Constructors' Championship, McLaren looked like the ones to beat in first practice, with defending World Champion, Jenson Button, breaking away from the rest of the field, as he set a time of 1:23.693. Button's team mate, Lewis Hamilton, was not quite able to match his pace. Nevertheless, once second practice came along, both drivers spent the time swapping positions, and Hamilton pipped Button to fourth place in the end.
Mark Webber, in the sister Red Bull, did not have such a good day on the track, as he was forced to stop during the session, with just eighteen minutes until the end. It was a suspected water leak, which left the Australian down in sixth place.
Rubens Barrichello made a promising start to his 301st race weekend in RFormula One, following his disappointing retirement, from the race in RBelgium two weeks ago. The Brazilian driver finished practice behind RWebber, obert Kubica was eighth fastest, ahead of the other Williams Rdriver, Nico Hulkenberg, and Nico Rosberg rounded off the top ten in Rhis Mercedes.
The best of the outsiders were the two Force India drivers, Adrian Sutil out performed team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi to grab eleventh place from him. While Vitaly Petrov in the other Renault, was ahead of the seven times World Champion, Michael Schumacher for Mercedes. The German seems to have a continuous spell of bad luck this season, and spent more time off the track in the gravel than on it.
The battle between the new teams in Formula One is still very much alive, Lotus are proving to be the ones to beat at present. Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen completed second practice in nineteenth and twentieth place. This left both Virgin Racing cars trailing behind, with Sakon Yamamoto and Bruno Senna for Hispania Racing, lining up at the back of the pack.
As qualifying gets under way tomorrow Autodromo Nazionale Monza for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel will be keeping his fingers crossed for pole position, after he gained his first Grand Prix win, in Formula One at the circuit in 2008. The focus will also be on Ferrari to see what they can do at the home race, especially after the controversy surrounding Fernando Alonso, and Felipe Massa since the German Grand Prix.