As the F1 circus rolled into Monza for the final chapter in 2009’s European battle, the result is as predictable as Fernando Alonso’s future! On paper, it should be a Brawn or Red Bull winner; however, in reality Ferrari, McLaren, BMW, and who knows, even Force India, have a shout!
As for Brawn GP, well they come to Monza looking to build on a positive race from Rubens and looking to boost Jenson’s ever decreasing point lead.
Nick Heidfeld was first out in the beautiful Italian Sunshine to set his sighter lap. He was followed by most of the other drivers and of course, if you’ve read my Friday articles before, you’ll know that the Brawns always come out last!
Jens waited seven minutes to join the action, followed four minutes later by his new cleanly shaved teammate (I love beards as much as the next bloke but come on Rubens that goatee was ridiculous!).
It was Buemi who gave us our first time of 1:29:687. After about 30 minutes most of the teams were waiting for the track to be cleaned which of course meant that there weren’t many times on the board (at this stage only five, with Hamilton in P1 with a 1:25:410)!
Jenson was finally out on track with 51 minutes to go and clocked in a very respectable 1:27:388 (P12 of 16). Rubens exited the pits a couple of minutes later and added his name to the time sheets with a 1:28:358 (17 of 17).
Jens began to improve on his times, rising first to P7 and then to P2 with a 1:25:765. Rubens was taking a little longer to find the groove and could only manage to get up to P9. Nevertheless, I think Brawn’s early practice form was very promising; both drivers quickly found pace and neither were particularly unhappy.
Hamilton stayed first whilst Jens lapped comfortably on the P2 pace. Rubens was struggling with a small lock up into turn one so he didn’t really improve on his P9.
However, on his next lap, the Brazilian had found his groove and was right up behind his teammate in P3 with a 1:25:026. This meant that with 39 minutes left, Hamilton was first, Jens was second and Rubens was third.
Jenson may have been half a second slower than his British rival at this point but Hamilton had really been attacking the track and I think Brawn were just being a little more cautious (they have of course got a lot more to lose!).
There was a slight issue when Jenson returned top the pits which unfortunately messed up the rest of the session really. The rear left of his car caught fire as a component under the bodywork over heated in the tough Italian conditions.
There were no dramas and the only damage seemed to be a bit of burnt carbon fibre. Still, the car needed to be checked over and this cost time.
With 19 minutes to go, Jens had fallen slowly to P6 and Rubens had glided down to P9. Both Brawns rejoined the action but both had locking issues as they just pushed that little bit harder.
The session finished with the McLarens on top and Jens in P7, Rubens in P12. All in all, this was a pretty great practice after the disappointing results in Spa. Jenson was clearly quick and was only hindered by a small fire whilst Rubens took his time but found pace by the end. Hopefully practice two will prove to be just as positive as the first session.
Pos No Driver Team Time/Retired Gap Laps
1 1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.936 26
2 2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:24.332 0.396 27
3 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:24.471 0.535 24
4 7 Fernando Alonso Renault 1:24.477 0.541 21
5 6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:24.683 0.747 25
6 12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:24.703 0.767 35
7 22 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:24.706 0.770 21
8 3 Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari 1:24.732 0.796 24
9 14 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:24.759 0.823 19
10 4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:24.761 0.825 26
11 5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:24.813 0.877 20
12 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:24.826 0.890 24
13 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:24.927 0.991 29
14 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:25.150 1.214 28
15 8 Romain Grosjean Renault 1:25.612 1.676 18
16 21 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:25.689 1.753 29
17 11 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:25.742 1.806 30
18 15 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:25.951 2.015 8
19 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:26.020 2.084 23
20 10 Timo Glock Toyota 1:26.325 2.389 17