The opening day of the Italian Grand Prix underlined the fact that Formula One 2009 style is far from predictable. While the four championship leaders languished towards the bottom of the timesheets, Adrian Sutil set the pace in his Force India Mercedes as he chases his first points
result of the season...
1 . A. Sutil - Force India Mercedes VJM02
"Everything went well today. The car was working perfectly and we can be very happy about the result. It was a very, very good time that came as a result of some good work, a great set-up and getting the tyres to work well. We didn't try specifically to go fastest but if you are on top of your game and the car is working well there's no reason why you couldn't be P1 at the end of the session. It was a very productive day on a very cool track and it's good to have some fun right now."
2 . R. Grosjean - Renault R29
“Today has gone rather well, although I had to learn the Monza circuit for the first time in an F1 car. It’s the ‘temple of speed’ and a legendary circuit where there is a lot to learn, especially running with the KERS and so there were lots of new procedures for me to get used to. We finished the day in good shape and I’m continuing to work well with the engineers. I tried to improve the set-up and the results were positive so I will continue in the same way tomorrow.”
3 . F. Alonso - Renault R29
“It was a normal Friday for us where we worked on set-up and evaluated the tyres. If we can find some more performance tomorrow then hopefully we can be in good shape for qualifying.”
4 . H. Kovalainen - McLaren Mercedes MP4-24
“At Monza, you’re always facing the problem of balancing overall downforce with grip through the corners – and I think today was possibly better than we anticipated. We’re quicker in the corners than we were last year, which is good. The KERS advantage here is nearly four tenths per lap so it’s really helpful along the straights and out of the slower corners. Others have more downforce compared with us, but we have this fantastic KERS from Mercedes-Benz. It’s funny: the teams have all adopted different technical solutions but the lap times are still very close together – that’s the beauty of Formula One.”
5 . R. Kubica - BMW Sauber F1.09
"We lost quite a lot of time in the morning session due to a problem with the brakes. Fortunately we were able to change the brakes in time and I completed a baseline run at the end of the session. In the afternoon we worked on the set-up of the car and tried to evaluate the tyres."
6 . T. Glock - Toyota TF109
"It was a reasonably good second practice. It was tougher in the morning but we made some changes to the set-up and in the afternoon the car felt better overall. We got more performance from the car and got through our normal programme with no issues. The car feels pretty good but of course we need to work on improving our lap times again. If we can find the right aero balance I think we will be okay here. The new kerbs are fine; they are different to last year but still acceptable. The weather was also quite a bit different to last year's rain and that was definitely an improvement."
7 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber F1.09
"The lap times are not bad, especially when you take into account I did my fastest lap in the second session quite early on and even had some traffic. The car’s balance is better than it has been on some other Fridays, but there is still room for improvement. It is challenging to get the balance right for both qualifying and the race. We did the usual tyre evaluation and compared the softer and the harder compounds on long runs. The height of the new kerbs changes the circuit quite a lot, you have to get used to it and look where you can still go over them and which ones you better avoid. At the end of the second session I pitted a few minutes early after I went straight on at the Ascari chicane and wanted to have the car checked."
8 . K. Raikkonen - Ferrari F60
“Overall, I’m reasonably pleased with the way things went in these three hours of free practice and the initial impressions are good. There is still room to improve the handling of the car, which we hope to do in tomorrow morning’s free practice. The new kerbs don’t allow you to cut them with impunity, which is not a bad thing given the difficulty we have experienced in this area in the past. Our pace on a long run isn’t bad and we will do our best to fight for a place on the podium. As for the tyres, the softer compound is definitely quicker, but it’s also quite consistent in terms of performance.”
9 . K. Nakajima - Williams Toyota FW31
“Although we are not expecting much here, today didn’t go too badly. Certainly compared to Spa, I think I will be more competitive here, although it is perhaps too early to say how we will go in qualifying. We worked hard today and tried many different technical options, but importantly found some positive direction, so I think the main priority to is maintain this progress tomorrow.”
10 . S. Buemi - Toro Rosso Ferrari STR4
“We had a good day, running trouble free in both sessions. Now, we just need to find a bit more speed for tomorrow, when we will have a new engine, so let’s wait and see what we can do. It’s nice to drive at such a high speed track, because it gives you a different feeling, hitting speeds you never see anywhere else.”
11 . L. Hamilton - McLaren Mercedes MP4-24
"I’m pleased with our progress. It’s always a little nerve-wracking when you arrive at a unique circuit such as this because you want to see if you’ve taken the right direction with the car’s aerodynamics. But this morning’s session showed us that the engineers had made a very accurate assessment of what would be needed. KERS certainly helps around here – we can expect it to be worth nearly four tenths in qualifying tomorrow – but we also made some good progress with our overall package. This afternoon was spent on heavier fuel-loads, so you can’t read too much into the times, but I’m encouraged by where we are.”
V. Liuzzi - Force India Mercedes VJM02
"Today was much better than the straight line testing! It's a completely different approach as you get used to the rhythm, the braking points and I think it's a great challenge. We went for longer runs and covering a race distance and everything is going in the right direction. For now I am taking it a bit easy as I want to get used to the tyres and the car and tomorrow we will work on the lap time for qualifying. We knew we would have a competitive car and I felt the balance was good, and there is still at least half a second more as I had some traffic on some of my fastest laps. It's just the beginning of the weekend but I am really happy about how it went. I think the car is responding really well and we are optimistic for tomorrow."
13 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF109
"That was a typical Friday for me and it went smoothly with no problems. As usual we tested the two different tyres and also worked on setting up the car. We made some improvements from first practice so in the afternoon I was happier with the car. We still have some work to do to improve and get the best out of it around this track so we will look at all the data to improve the set-up for qualifying. Today we also experienced the new kerbs at the chicanes for the first time and these seem to be okay; I had no problem with them. It's nice to be back in Italy, driving in front of my home fans, and I just hope I can do a good race on Sunday."
14 . M. Webber - Red Bull Renault RB5
“A mixed day. We had an electrical problem in P2, which probably cost us about a run and a half, so it was a good recovery from the guys to get the car turned back around. Mileage is important here, as it’s the first time we’ve driven in Monza this year – normally we test here before hand. It’s always a unique track to drive – with high top speeds and the car moving around – so I enjoyed driving today. We’ve got a bit of pace to find, but I’m sure we’ll be in the running tomorrow.”
15 . J. Alguersuari - Toro Rosso Ferrari STR4
“I found it quite tough driving today for the first time, with this low downforce package, as I had no experience of that so far in F1. But that’s a good thing, as it is all part of my learning experience. I felt I got an understanding of how to drive the car on new and old tyres and with high and low fuel loads and I had a good feeling in the car. We have a reasonable set-up on the car, but I think we can improve it still further tomorrow.”
16 . R. Barrichello - Brawn Mercedes BGP 001
"Our programme went pretty much as planned today with the performance of the car as we were expecting. Our set-up work was focused on long runs and I'm fairly happy with how the car feels and with the braking stability. We have some work to do on the balance but overall a good start to the weekend although today's running doesn't really give us an indication of how qualifying will play out tomorrow."
17 . N. Rosberg - Williams Toyota FW31
“The most important job today is to find the compromise between top speed and grip and it’s not easy to arrive at the optimum downforce level. We were very slow on the straights this morning, so we looked at this and we have found a good solution. Tyres are just as important and we have completed a good test, from my point of view the direction is pretty clear. The rest of our running time was focused on aerodynamics and we found some good direction, but despite doing some good homework, it is going to be difficult for us here and it won’t be an easy weekend. To repeat the Spa performance of making into the top ten in qualifying will require a hell of a lap, but that’s not to say we can’t pull it out of the bag!”
18 . S. Vettel - Red Bull Renault RB5
“It’s quite a surprise today to look at the lap times and see who is on top and who’s in the midfield. Nothing is wrong for us and everything went to plan - we knew we faced a difficult Friday with limited mileage due to the small number of engines I have left until the end of the season. We used the laps we had available today and it seemed to go okay. We still have to improve, so we’ll now look to see who was fast and who was playing with fuel loads. At this stage it seems impossible to predict who will be on top.”
19 . J. Button - Brawn Mercedes BGP 001
"We did a lot of set-up work today with the car in the low downforce configuration although we had a couple of issues which meant that I couldn't do the long runs that we had planned so that was a bit frustrating. Everything was sorted out by the end of the day which is good but we have a lot of work ahead of us. It feels very different running with such low downforce but the car has been performing reasonably well. We need to work on the fine-tuning of the set-up overnight to ensure that I'm completely happy with the balance before qualifying."
20 . G. Fisichella - Ferrari F60
“I feel satisfied with this first day, which was particularly tough from a driving point of view. The major difficulties are in adapting to the different positions of the buttons and gaining confidence with the KERS. This morning, braking heavily at Ascari, I flat- spotted the left front tyre and that meant I had to fit the softer tyres earlier than planned: I felt more confident with those and I managed to drive at a strong pace. In both sessions, we didn’t go looking for performance and I had a lot of fuel on board. The potential is there to get onto the front few rows, but I need a bit more time to improve, especially in terms of braking and cutting the kerbs.”