McLaren tops practice as Alonso hits trouble
7 September 2012 – Lewis Hamilton has led a McLaren one-two in Friday afternoon practice at Monza. Ferrari ended the session third and fourth but there was trouble for Fernando Alonso as he encountered brake and gearbox problems. Jérôme d’Ambrosio replaced Romain Grosjean at Lotus as Red Bull struggled to only 11th and 13th places.
Those with the Mercedes engine clearly enjoyed an advantage throughout the day, although Michael Schumacher’s abilities were masked by a DRS problem. With the rear wing flap jammed shut, the seven-time World Champion ended the period in tenth position as team-mate Nico Rosberg entered the top five. Also in that group was the Ferrari duo, as Massa lapped the legendary track 43 times which was comfortably more than any rival.
The same could not be said for Alonso. At the end of FP1 he had stopped at the Rettifilo with an old engine which was about to expire. In this session, the championship leader - who is already on the back foot after being taken out of action at Spa - first encountered a brake problem which caused him to overshoot the first corner. As soon as he was back on-track, the Spaniard coasted around, stuck in second gear. Ferrari soon confirmed a gearbox failure and this may incur a five-place penalty ahead of Saturday’s qualifying period.
Räikkönen finished up sixth, with team-mate d’Ambrosio keeping his nose clean for 12th, sandwiched by Red Bulls; the Belgian, who is half Italian, ended his session with several practice pit-stops.
As Massa improved to fourth, Hamilton remained on top with his quickest lap time of 1:25.290, edging out Button by just 38 thousandths of a second as only half a tenth covered the top three. In the paddock, Hamilton is making headlines for another reason, as he has been connected with a Mercedes-Benz factory seat for next year.
Third and final practice in Italy commences at 11am local time (BST +1) and can also be tracked through the interactive GPUpdate.net Live report