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Friday analysis - who's keeping a trump card in hand? 07 Sep 2007

Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 7 September 2007 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2007 leads Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Renault R27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 7 September 2007 Alex Wurz (AUT) Williams FW29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 7 September 2007 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda RA107.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 7 September 2007 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.07.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 7 September 2007

To hear most of the teams talk, none of them had any problems on the opening day at Monza. While that might appear to conflict with the lap times, it tends to reflect the nature of a Friday session when people are often doing different things.

McLaren ended up with the fastest time, 1m 22.386s courtesy of Fernando Alonso, from the afternoon session. But Kimi Raikkonen did 1m 22.446s and Felipe Massa 1m 22.590s in the morning for Ferrari, when Lewis Hamilton did 1m 22.618s. All three of them were slower in the afternoon (1m 23.833s, 1m 23.722s and 1m 23.209s respectively).

That’s because they were trying race set-ups, whereas Alonso had had a steering problem which upset his morning routine.

All of the championship contenders were happy with their days (that minor problem for Alonso, and a hydraulic problem for Raikkonen in the afternoon, apart). Ferrari said they are good on race pace, but still need work on the single lap for qualifying. Massa also reported that the track, while dirty, was definitely in better shape than it had been at the test last week.

Williams had a consistent day, at least with Nico Rosberg, who was fifth in both sessions. He got through a lot of the work that the poor weather last week stymied, and was happy apart from a little uncertainty still on which of the two Bridgestone tyre options - soft and medium - was better. Alex Wurz said his FW29’s balance still needed work.

BMW Sauber did not go as fast as expected, but that was partly because they discovered a lot about their F1.07s in the test and thus saved the motors in the first session. Kubica, whose best lap was 1m 23.599s in the afternoon, said his brake balance was worse than in the test, while Heidfeld, who lapped in 1m 23.821s in the afternoon, said his long runs weren’t as consistent as he would have liked.

Renault had their tail up after Giancarlo Fisichella pushed his R27 to 1m 23.584s in the afternoon, the Italian saying that it was “a bit better than normal,” and that he correspondingly felt more optimistic than of late. Heikki Kovalainen had a trickier day, flat spotting his tyres on his first lap of the day which delayed his programme. After that he struggled to balance his car, and his best lap was 1m 23.848s in the afternoon.

Honda had a great run in the morning when Jenson Button’s 1m 23.668s was sixth fastest. Rubens Barrichello was only 12th on 1m 24.564s then, and in the afternoon they were 13th and 14th. Button went slower then, while Barrichello improved marginally. It’s fair to say the Englishman was happier with his day than was the Brazilian.

Toyota looked in reasonable shape, with Jarno Trulli lapping in 1m 23.919s in the afternoon and Ralf Schumacher in 1m 23.922s. The Italian was happier with his TF107’s stability under braking than he had been at the test, and Schumacher said he was reasonably satisfied with what he achieved.

Neither David Coulthard nor Mark Webber reported any problems at Red Bull. Their best laps were 1m 24.605s and 1m 24.328s respectively. Stablemate Sebastian Vettel was happy with his Toro Rosso, which he lapped in 1m 25.439s in the morning, but Tonio Liuzzi reported that his handling felt “weird” as the car understeered in left turns and oversteered in the right. He also had an electrical problem which lost him his final run in the afternoon. His best lap was thus 1m 25.567s in the afternoon.

At Super Aguri, Takuma Sato was resigned about a best lap of 1m 24.587s in the morning, but Anthony Davidson didn’t better 1m 26.021s in the afternoon before his clutch packed up. His best lap was thus the 1m 24.694s that he did in the morning.

Finally, Spyker reported a very productive day further dialling in the new F8-VIIB, though Adrian Sutil lost time in the morning with a gearbox problem. He lapped in 1m 25.130s in the morning to head the Toro Rossos, while Sakon Yamamoto’s best of the day was 1m 25.448s in the same session. Both drivers believe there is more to come from the revised car.