As if the tifosi (Ferrari fans) didn’t have enough to worry about, with F1 ticket prices ranging between €170 and €520 each and serious traffic problems getting in, due to labyrinthine road works, Fernando Alonso’s body language after practice will have made their hearts sink further.
“It seems that Red Bull and McLaren and also Mercedes are quite competitive,” he said.”Tomorrow we will need to find something more in the car to be fighting with them. In Belgium we were not as good as we expected. You cannot create a miracle in two weeks. Here so far we struggle with the pace and are not as quick as we wanted. If tomorrow is still slow, then maybe we need to wait until the high downforce circuits.”
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time this afternoon in free practice, just shading Lewis Hamilton, who had been faster in the morning when the track temperatures were significantly lower. Michael Schumacher was third fastest for Mercedes. The seven times champion brushed off suggestions that his storming drive at Spa had given him a confidence boost, saying that he’s been driving at that level all along, even if the results don’t show it. While he has yet to match Nico Rosberg in qualifying, his race pace has been as strong and sometimes stronger in recent races, particularly Spa.
But it’s hard to read the exact order between the top teams as the long runs showed different fuel levels. The devil is always in the last tenth or two of a second. Interestingly Hamilton set his fastest afternoon time on the first flying lap on the soft tyre, while Vettel needed a second lap to get it up to speed. Pirelli say that they don’t believe this has anything to do with the conservative camber angles that they have enforced on the teams this weekend. Vettel’s second lap was a tenth faster than the first.
Hamilton’s time on softs was 1.2 seconds faster than his best on the medium tyre, which is in line with pre-weekend expectations. However Vettel’s time was only 0.8s faster. This could be worth watching out for and if it carries through may have a bearing on the strategy on Sunday, with Red Bull quick on the medium tyre.
In fact, with the tyres behaving as they are, with the gap between soft and medium not so great for some teams, there could be quite a variety of different strategies on Sunday, with a few attractive options available to teams who are not too hard on their tyres. In Spa the first four cars had four different strategies.
There appears to be no repeat of the blistering problems encountered on the long straights at Spa, “We’re analysing the data throughout the afternoon, but there appears to be no blistering outside the usual parameters for this circuit,” said Pirelli’s Paul Hembery. He added that he thinks it likely that Pirelli will stick to its conservative recommendation on camber.
Both Sauber cars were in the top ten, although Kobayashi stopped on track with a transmission problem. Sauber is a team which is very gentle on its tyres and this could be an occasion where they could score useful points provided they qualify reasonably strongly. Peter Sauber revealed that they have lost ground to others due to holding back on development of the blown diffuser, believing that it would be banned from Silverstone onwards, something which didn’t materialise.
Bruno Senna was ahead of team mate Vitaly Petrov for Renault, which also set the fastest time through the speed trap at 347km/h, the fastest speed an F1 car has been clocked at this season.
Sebastien Buemi had a nasty accident as he got offline on the exit of Parabolica, “I made a mistake and hit the wall, so I am sorry for giving the team a lot of work now to repair the damage” he said.
ITALIAN GRAND PRIX, Monza, Free Practice 2
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m24.010s 37 Laps
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m24.046s + 0.036 21
3. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m24.347s + 0.337 39
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m24.366s + 0.356 33
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m24.433s + 0.423 31
6. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m24.468s + 0.458 32
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1m24.508s + 0.498 30
8. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m25.097s + 1.087 39
9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m25.182s + 1.172 37
10. Bruno Senna Renault 1m25.325s + 1.315 38
11. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m25.450s + 1.440 31
12. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m25.496s + 1.486 39
13. Paul di Resta Force India 1m25.683s + 1.673 37
14. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m25.758s + 1.748 29
15. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m26.202s + 2.192 36
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m26.353s + 2.343 40
17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m28.347s + 4.337 5
18. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m28.559s + 4.549 32
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m28.605s + 4.595 32
20. Timo Glock Virgin 1m28.804s + 4.794 25
21. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1m29.162s + 5.152 34
22. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m29.184s + 5.174 29
23. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m29.622s + 5.612 34
24. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1m29.841s + 5.831 7