Italian GP - A day of two halves
First and second places for Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa respectively in the morning session today and then in the afternoon, sixth place for the Brazilian and eighth for the Finn. Why the sudden loss of form for the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro duo? Two reasons: while the morning had gone well for both men at the wheel of their F2007 cars, Raikkonen's afternoon session was disrupted by an hydraulic problem which meant he spent much of the time in the garage, completing just 12 laps in the afternoon, compared to Felipe's 27. Kimi was a bit frustrated at the lack of track time, but having done a couple of days testing here last week, it is not such a big handicap. As for Felipe, the team opted to run him predominantly in race trim in the afternoon, which means doing longer runs on a heavier fuel load, hence the slower lap times.
At the end of the day, the McLaren-Mercedes duo of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were quickest in that order. It seems that being an Italian driver at Monza can be a performance booster. Yesterday, in the FIA press conference, Giancarlo Fisichella said he felt he could have a good race here and the Renault driver has started well, setting the third fastest time. In fourth place is the BMW-Sauber of Poland's Robert Kubica, followed by the Williams-Toyota of Nico Rosberg, 0.099 seconds quicker than Massa. The weather is much better than it was at last week's test and warm sunny conditions are predicted to last for the rest of the weekend.
"The first session went well, but in the second one I lost a lot of time with a hydraulic problem and I only managed to do one run of laps on new tyres in the final moments," said Kimi. "We therefore don't have much of a reference point on where we actually are, on top of the fact that as usual there are the unknown factors linked to the fuel loads and tyres used by the other teams during the practice. The balance of the car is not bad, but we definitely have work to do to improve the performance, especially for qualifying, where our rivals are particularly competitive. But our race pace should be good. Monza is Ferrari's home race and I will be doing my best to give the team and all its fans something to be happy about."
Luca Baldisserri also said, "There were two sides to today. This morning, everything went according to the set plan, but in the afternoon we had a hydraulic problem on Kimi's car which took some time to sort out. Now we have to establish what caused it. Luckily, we also have available to us the data from last week's test at this track. Felipe struggled a bit to find the right balance on the car on the first lap but his long run pace was quite good. To sum up, we are certainly not in for an easy weekend, but we have the potential to do well."