Adrian Sutil kept up Force India’s excellent form from Spa with fastest time in free practice for the Italian Grand Prix.
The German was on the pace throughout the day and set the fastest time at the end of the second session using the soft Bridgestone tyres. The Force India took a big step forward at Valencia but has really come into its own on the low downforce circuits.
Meanwhile his former team mate, Giancarlo Fisichella, found himself in the Luca Badoer slot, 20th position on his first day as a Ferrari driver, albeit with far more prospect of eventual success. The Italian covered 36 laps this afternoon. He was 8/10ths of a second off team mate Kimi Raikkonen and 1.6 seconds off Sutil’s pace. However all the signs are that he was learning the car, carrying race fuel levels and was particularly working on mastering the KERS system and will be closer to Raikkonen in qualifying. He said afterwards that he feels the front two rows are possible.
The world championship leader, Jenson Button, was 19th after a few niggly problems with the gearbox during the session. Team mate Barrichello was 16th. Monza is a track where it is tricky to get the tyres warmed up, due to the long straights and lack of fast corners. Warm up is a weakness of this Brawn chassis. The team seemed to focus on running old tyres, although Barrchello did a run on option tyres mid way through the session.
For Red Bull, Mark Webber had a truncated session with electrical loom chafing problems early on. He ended up 14th. Sebastian Vettel was 18th, having focussed his running on the afternoon, due to a lack of available engines.
Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the morning session and wound up 11th in the second session. But the McLaren looks strong over the new high kerbs at Monza and McLaren are likely to feature strongly in qualifying and the race.
There were only four KERS cars in the top ten, two of which were the Renaults, but it is hard to draw too many conclusions from the lap times as not everyone did new tyre runs.