Day one in Italy by the men in the driving seats
Kimi Raikkonen ends day one on a high by heading session two, but its not enough to eclipse Michael Schumachers time from opening practice. All the drivers explain their Friday progress. (Stated times/positions cumulative over the two Friday sessions.)
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st, 1m 20.526s):
It is always nice to race in front of our tifosi and so I am happy to be back at Monza again after two days of testing last week. We hope to put on a good show for all the fans who will be here to celebrate our recent winning of both titles. The colours of the Italian flag on my helmet is a small thank you to Italian Ferrari fans for all their support in the bad times as well as the good.
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (2nd, 1m 20.846s):
"A good start to the race weekend but still a long way to go. The car feels reasonably good, and my quick lap was not perfect as I was sliding a little bit more than expected. However we will work on fixing that in time for qualifying. It's always nice to be fastest, but it's too early to say where we will be tomorrow."
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (3rd, 1m 20.861s):
The fight for first place this weekend will be decided by thousandths of a second. From what we have seen today, we seem to be competitive. But we need to work very hard and concentrate to make sure we get the most out of our package. The F2004 went quite well in these two hours of free practice, confirming what we found at last weeks test. I would like to give our tifosi another opportunity to celebrate on Sunday afternoon.
Anthony Davidson, BAR (4th, 1m 20.902s):
"I had a good first session this morning finishing 3rd behind the Ferraris and then achieved the fourth fastest time of the day overall. I'm really happy with my performance today and we gathered lots of useful data for the rest of the weekend, which will make our tyre choice much easier. The times are very close at top, so it looks like the weekend could be quite hard-fought, with BAR in the thick of it."
Jenson Button, BAR (5th, 1m 21.124s):
"Fourth place (in session two) isn't too bad at the end of Friday. My lap on new tyres was pretty average so I feel this is a good start considering that we have tomorrow to focus on set-up. The times of the top six cars are very close so it's still quite early in the weekend to make any predictions. I think we have a good car here though and I'm sure we have a strong weekend ahead of us."
Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (6th, 1m 21.264s):
We did our normal Friday homework today, mainly consisting of tyre evaluation and set-up work, and I am pretty confident with what we have achieved. The grip was not ideal today, especially in the first session, because the track was quite dirty but we had some good running here last week, during three days of testing. With 20 minutes to go of the second session, when I was at the Parabolica, I felt something had happened with the brakes and it caused me to go off the track. There is a wide runoff area there and fortunately I didnt hit the barriers too hard.
Takuma Sato, BAR (7th, 1m 21.313s):
"This was a good start to the weekend. We came from testing with a lot of positive information and put in a competitive performance today. It is warm here once again, but we have all three cars performing well so the team are very happy. If we continue to work well on set-up tomorrow then I feel that we should have a strong qualifying session."
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (8th, 1m 21.419s):
We have gone through our working programme today and I am reasonably happy with the balance of my car. The data we collected in last weeks test is proving very useful as well as the new aero parts that we have brought to Monza. The track conditions improved quite a lot throughout the sessions and consequently the traction became better and better. We have some more work to do, but this is normal on a Friday.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (9th, 1m 21.630s):
"It was a normal Friday for me: as usual, we had to evaluate the tyres and collect enough data in these conditions to make the right choice. In terms of set-up, we need to improve the car for tomorrow: the R24 lacks grip at the moment and it feels very slippery on the circuit. When you are running with low downforce levels like we do here, you need to be able to drive with precision and today I was struggling to find my braking points. The grip levels will improve during the weekend, which should help us, but we need to improve our baseline performance as well."
Jarno Trulli, Renault (10th, 1m 22.052s):
"I struggled to find a good balance today: the car was oversteering and the track conditions were not great, with low levels of grip. We have a few small problems to solve on the car for tomorrow and taking that into account, our performance is not too bad."
David Coulthard, McLaren (11th, 1m 22.052s):
"We tested here last week, so I think we are pretty clear on tyres and really spent today adjusting the cars to the conditions we have this weekend. As always it's early days and as a result I'm not making any predictions. We will continue to focus on our planned programme and then get excited if we are still top of the time sheets after Saturday's qualifying."
Bjorn Wirdheim, Jaguar (12th, 1m 22.065s):
I have had a successful day today and I am really pleased with how the R5 feels. Its well-balanced and I am enjoying driving here in Monza. I really like this track and I am pleased that we have completed our test programme completely. The team has really prepared well for this weekend and I think the test last week also really helped. Lets see if we can now score some more points.
Ryan Briscoe, Toyota (13th, 1m 22.197s):
"I am extremely happy with the work we managed to achieve today. We had a few difficulties with the car set-up in the first practice, but the team worked well to make improvements over the lunchbreak. Consequently, the car was in good shape right from the start of the second session. We completed both sets of long runs perfectly with no problems whatsoever. Combined with the work that we were able to complete at last week's Monza test, I hope we can be quite competitive this weekend."
Felipe Massa, Sauber (14th, 1m 22.258s):
"The car was very good today, very consistent. I had a bit of traffic otherwise I could have gone a little faster on my best lap, but I'm happy. I've had good handling balance all day, and I'm feeling very optimistic for the race."
Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (15th, 1m 22.298s):
"After a productive test session here in Monza last week, I think we continued our work in a positive way today. During the test, we concentrated on a variety of things in preparation for this race, but we did not work so much on the balance of the car. Today's two sessions were very useful to work on fine-tuning the set-up and I am very happy with the balance we have. We also carried out the usual Michelin comparison and we found a consistent tyre for qualifying and the race. It was a good first day and we have learned a lot for the rest of the weekend."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (16th, 1m 22.302s):
"I was struggling just a little bit as the car lost its balance on new tyres. The track was very dirty and on my last run the front tyres were past their best by Turn Four because of this, but we were consistent on long runs which is most important."
Timo Glock, Jordan (17th, 1m 22.332s):
I think it was a really good day. We made progress on finding a tyre for the race distance and also there has been a big improvement in car set-up compared to the test last week. We found some good things for the car and for the first time I would say that I am satisfied with the job I have done: the long runs for tyres were good and at the end my flying lap was not bad either. Any driver will always say perhaps I could have been one or two tenths faster but today Im quite pleased. The team and especially Oliver (Knighton, Glocks engineer) have done a good job.
Mark Webber, Jaguar (18th, 1m 22.392s):
Today has been good for us and overall very productive. Having been here last week for three days has really helped us too and we came here very prepared. The car is feeling good and has been reliable today throughout my sessions. I spent a lot of my time working on tyres with Michelin and we have some good data for the rest of the weekend and to help with our decision tonight. The balance out there is good, but this is where our test data has come into play. I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend, it promises to be a closely fought battle for position both in qualifying tomorrow and in the race.
Olivier Panis, Toyota (19th, 1m 22.487s):
"It was not such a good day for me, as my car was suffering from a rear vibration and a problem with the brake pedal. Unfortunately, we could not find the source of the disturbance during the sessions, so I struggled to carry out the usual Friday programme. Now we must check the data carefully in order to find out where the problem comes from, so we can fix it. Due to the time we lost today, it is important that we can make full use of tomorrow's free practice sessions."
Christian Klien, Jaguar (20th, 1m 23.199s):
Today has gone as planned for us and we have come away with some really good information on our tyres and the R5. I did a good number of laps today and we have been working on our balance and general race set-up. I had a bit of understeer at one stage but we have been looking into this and I am pleased with our progress. We still have some work to do between now and qualifying but I am keen to qualify well and add to our points tally on Sunday.
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (21st, 1m 23.818s):
Today we worked on the car balance towards finding the best set-up for the race. We were evaluating the conditions and how the car behaved, particularly on long runs. Apart from some problems I experienced with the rear of the car, we are relatively happy.
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (22nd, 1m 24.000s):
The first session worked out quite well because, encouragingly, the car was balanced a lot better than it was at the test. Unfortunately before I could do a timed lap in the second session, I had a technical problem which stopped the car on track. Thats a bit disappointing obviously but so far this season we have had a reliable engine and this can happen every once in a while. Its not nice though to lose a whole practice session because it meant there were a few things we were not able to test.
Bas Leinders, Minardi (23rd, 1m 24.045s):
"Today, we had a very good day. It was useful to have been testing here last week, and together with my engineer, we worked very well to find an improvement on the set-up from last week. It's why I was able to go quite fast in the morning session with low downforce. This resulted in setting one of the highest top speeds, but also made the car quite difficult in the braking areas. We completed the morning in 20th place, which was good. In the afternoon,
we concentrated primarily on carrying out tyre comparisons, as usual, but I still managed to set a good time, even though the low-downforce configuration was not quite so effective in the higher temperatures. It might have been better with just a little more downforce in the afternoon session, but nonetheless, we had a productive day, the team worked very well, and we had no major problems."
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (24th, 1m 24.063s):
"It has been a good start for us. We struggled in the first session to match our test times here last week, but then we got closer in the second session. The situation wasn't helped by the fact the air temperature is different from what it was when we tested at Monza last week. We did some good work today, but we still have to find a good race balance for the chassis. I could definitely have gone quicker on my last run this afternoon, but was held up in traffic."
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (25th, 1m 24.225s):
"It was a good day overall. We made some useful changes to the car during the sessions, and as a result, I am quite confident for qualifying. The car felt good for the strategy we plan to use tomorrow, so I'm happy."