Filippi on top in home practice
Italian leads the way in Monza
Luca Filippi gave the local fans something to cheer about by setting the pace in this morning's free practice session in Monza: the Italian was one tenth to the good over Fabio Leimer, with 2011 champion Romain Grosjean a further two tenths back.
Filippi set the pace early on and then improved his times throughout the session: his best lap of 1:32.018 was set at the halfway mark and gave his rivals an untouchable benchmark for the remainder of their track time, despite much of the field improving on their earlier best laps.
The session opened with the sun blazing overhead: Filippi was on the pace immediately, with Julian Leal and Luiz Razia swapping the top spot with him until the Italian really got going. Grosjean, however, seemed lost as he struggled to hold his car on track: the Frenchman was soon in for his team to take a look at the car and find a solution to his woes.
Despite the fast nature of the circuit there was little in the way of problems for the field: apart from Grosjean's waywardness, soon sorted when he returned from the pits, only Johnny Cecotto stopped on track after spinning off at the Parabolica, while Leal spun to a halt at the second chicane late in the session and Michael Herck also stopping there as the clock ran out.
Jules Bianchi was the next man behind the top three, losing third to Grosjean with a minute remaining but staying ahead of Charles Pic, Max Chilton, Alvaro Parente and Giedo van der Garde. With 12 drivers within a second of the top time, and 24 within 2 seconds, the stage is set for a titanic battle for pole position this afternoon.