• Italian Grand Prix - FP2

Vettel cranks up the heat in Monza

Fraser Masefield and Laurence Edmondson
September 10, 2010

Sebastian Vettel gave McLaren and Ferrari food for thought by topping the timesheets after the second session of free practice for the Italian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver, who was second quickest in the morning, clocked a best effort of 1:22.839 to finish ahead of the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

The McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, who occupied the top two slots for the majority of the session, finished fourth and fifth fastest ahead of Mark Webber. And Williams enjoyed another day in the sunshine, Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg finishing seventh and ninth quickest.

Having opted not to alter the set-up of his car from the first session, Button was the first driver to make his move, bettering his morning time with a 1:23.296. Alonso, having changed his rear wing from the morning session, found an immediate improvement and set the second quickest time, albeit still over half a second off the McLaren.

With the afternoon Italian sunshine beating down on the Monza circuit and with rubber laid down, the lap times began to drop. Having waited patiently in the pits for the opening 20 minutes, Lewis Hamilton was immediately on the pace, going second fastest within his opening laps just fractionally shy of his team-mate's time. Deciding to run without the F-duct for the second session, Hamilton then went fastest with a 1:23.154.

With less than 30 minutes remaining, Hamilton and Button switched to soft tyres but rather unusually failed to improve their times. It appeared as though there was nothing between the two compounds, but when Vettel and the two Ferraris went out on the softs they found half a second. The results suggest that McLaren was running more fuel on the soft tyres to disguise its ultimate pace; either that or the option tyres simply did not work for it.

Massa was the first to take full advantage of the green-stripped rubber, clocking a time marginally quicker than Hamilton. He was then on an even faster time but came across Michael Schumacher's Mercedes in the Parabolica, lost downforce and understeered into the gravel. He just managed to keep his Ferrari out of the barriers and returned immediately to the pits where he got out of his car with a smile of relief on his face.

Meanwhile, Vettel set his fastest time of the session while Alonso's best lap was interrupted by yellow flags. Nevertheless the Ferrari was just 0.076 off the Red Bull, giving the local Tifosi plenty to smile about ahead of tomorrow's qualifying.

Mark Webber could only manage sixth fastest in his Red Bull after a loss of water pressure put an end to his quickest lap of the day. He stopped his car at the Lesmo corners and continued his journey back to the pits on foot, playing no further part in the session.

While the two Williams, Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg rounded out the top ten, Force India could only manage 11th and 12th. Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi took the F-ducts off their cars for the afternoon session but didn't appear to gain an advantage. Whether the team, widely tipped to be a strong contender for Sunday's race, will swap back remains to be seen.