This weekend's Italian Grand Prix got underway in Monza today where the weather has been the main talking point. Early morning drizzle was replaced by a downpour midway through the first practice session, only for sunshine to appear in time for...
This weekend's Italian Grand Prix got underway in Monza today where the weather has been the main talking point. Early morning drizzle was replaced by a downpour midway through the first practice session, only for sunshine to appear in time for this afternoon's running. With another 60mm of rain forecast for tomorrow morning, it's clear that the Italian Grand Prix weekend is certainly going to be an interesting one.
The Honda Racing F1 Team was one of the few teams to do any running during this morning's 1.5-hour practice session. The legendary Monza racetrack was covered by dark clouds from the outset, but Rubens Barrichello still completed 14 laps to set the second fastest time. Jenson Button achieved 12 laps before the session was red-flagged as the track became increasingly waterlogged.
Blue skies emerged for the afternoon and the track was dry after 30 minutes of the session, which allowed Rubens and Jenson to begin their Friday test programme in earnest. They worked through their set-up and tyre comparison programme to end the day in 14th and 15th positions. Rubens completed 25 laps with a best time of 1:25.296s, while Jenson was just 0.013s adrift.
Q. Following the test here at the end of August, how has the performance of the RA108 improved?
A. "We have changed the car dramatically since the Monza test as we were simply not competitive then. It's good that the car had a different reaction to the track today and I can feel that the balance has improved. We can't read too much into the levels of our performance as the track conditions were not ideal and it depends what our competitors were doing. So we need to continue our analysis overnight and plan our approach for qualifying tomorrow carefully."
Q. After a wet practice session this morning, how much were you able to learn in the dry this afternoon?
A. "The car feels very different today to the test here at the end of August. I have a lot more confidence in the braking stability and we have made other positive changes to the mechanical balance. Considering that we were not able to complete many laps today, we have certainly made a step in the right direction since the test. However there is still a great deal of work required this evening to look at how we can progress from here over the rest of the weekend."
Q. An interesting start to the Italian Grand Prix for all of the teams here in a rain-soaked Monza. How did this affect your first day of running today?
A. "We were not entirely happy with our car performance during the recent test in Monza. As a result there were some things that we wanted to evaluate here today, so the rainy weather this morning was not the ideal start. Having said that, the car appears to be performing better than it did at the test, as was confirmed by this afternoon's running. Both drivers are happier with the performance and I feel we have a much better basis on which to build for tomorrow."
Q. What are you expecting from the weekend ahead?
A. "I think this will be a challenging weekend for us but if the weather is inconsistent then we will look at this as an opportunity and one that we will grasp with both hands. I'm pleased with the drivers' comments about the car because at the test we really hadn't found a good solution. However the team have worked well since then to improve the performance and it is good to see this reflected in the timesheets today."