Monza Practice 1: Schumacher fastest early on

Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03. Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice, Monza, Italy, Friday 7 September 2012.

Michael Schumacher in top form, during the Friday morning free practice session at Monza

Sep.7 (GP247) As a Ferrari driver he was idolised at Monza. These days there is perhaps less of the deification, but Michael Schumacher gave the tifosi a reminder of the glory days, albeit using a Mercedes to do so, by going fastest of all in the first free practice session of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Jerome d'Ambrosio (BEL) Lotus E20. Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice, Monza, Italy, Friday 7 September 2012.Just after the midway mark of the ninety minute session Schumacher set the fastest time of anyone – by half a second, displacing the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso from the top spot on the timing screens. The time of 1 minute 25.422 seconds stood as the benchmark for the rest of the session.

Clearly the tifosi have not forgotten the great service Schumacher provided during his record breaking era with the Maranello squad.

“Michael we love you” and “Michael, we will always be with you” were among the banners, some in Italian, testifying to his continuing adoration of a driver who won five of his seven championships with Ferrari.

Belgian GP winner Jenson Button was next best, 0.301 seconds down on the Schumacher’s best, and good enough to prevent the Silver Arrows pair from hogging the top two places at the end of session as Nico Rosberg was third fastest, a mere 0.039 seconds down on the McLaren driver – Mercedes powering the top three.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012. Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice, Monza, Italy, Friday 7 September 2012.Next up were the Ferrari pair, with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa fourth and fifth respectively. Concerns developed for Ferrari with less than 10 minutes left of the session, as Alonso parked the F2012 out on track.

Ferrari explained on Twitter: “It looks like an engine problem for Fernando. Similar to what happened to Felipe in Spa.”

For Lewis Hamilton, the only way to escape the incessant questions regarding his future was by donning on his helmet and going out to do what he does best, namely drive fast. The controversy prone Brit was sixth fastest, racking up 30 laps of Monza – more than anyone else in the session, although Button did notch up 29 tours.

Kimi Raikkonen was fastest of the Renault powered brigade with the seventh best time, in the Lotus. His regular teammate Romain Grosjean, slapped with a one race ban after his Spa shenanigans, was in the paddock but not in the cockpit. On duty, on track, was the team’s Belgian reserve driver Jerome D’Ambrosio who spent the session dialling himself in. He was a second off Raikkonen’s best in 15th place, but he will pleased to have got serious mileage under his belt as his only other track time with the E20 was during a wet day of testing at Mugello in May.

Fastest of the Sauber pair, both of whom suffered dreadful misfortune at Spa, was Sergio Perez, with the eighth best time while Kamui Kobayashi was 14th fastest.

Ma Qing Hua (CHN) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112 Development Driver. Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice, Monza, Italy, Friday 7 September 2012.Mark Webber was fastest of the Red Bull duo with the ninth best time, the world champions typically getting off to a slower start than most. Sebastian Vettel was 11th on the timing sheets.

Williams ‘bad boy’ Pastor Maldonado was 10th quickest. He starts the weekend on the back foot with two penalties meaning he will drop ten places on the grid, as punishment for his misadventures during the Belgian GP weekend. The Venezuelan’s session also ended early as the Williams coasted to a halt close to the end of the session.

Williams reserve Valterri Bottas was fastest of the Friday drivers on duty in the morning session with the 13th best time. He was in the cockpit of Bruno Senna’s FW34.

Paul di Resta was a spectator while Jules Bianchi drove the Force India. Bianchi ended the session 16th.

Qing Hua Ma made history by becoming the first Chinese driver to compete in an official F1 session when he took over Narain Karthikeyan’s HRT for the first free practice session. Hua Ma was slowest of all.

Subbed by AJN.

Italian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 7 September 2012

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:25.422 26
2 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.723 0.301 29
3 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:25.762 0.340 26
4 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:25.800 0.378 22
5 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:25.861 0.439 27
6 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.944 0.522 30
7 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:26.046 0.624 25
8 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.323 0.901 26
9 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:26.390 0.968 24
10 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:26.504 1.082 19
11 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:26.508 1.086 18
12 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:26.518 1.096 21
13 19 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:26.641 1.219 26
14 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.746 1.324 23
15 10 Jerome D’Ambrosio Lotus-Renault 1:27.180 1.758 29
16 11 Jules Bianchi Force India-Mercedes 1:27.192 1.770 22
17 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:27.373 1.951 25
18 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:27.789 2.367 24
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:27.855 2.433 27
20 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:28.578 3.156 20
21 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:28.751 3.329 26
22 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:29.207 3.785 21
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:29.331 3.909 21
24 23 Qing Hua Ma HRT-Cosworth 1:31.239 5.817 26