• Italian Grand Prix - FP1

Schumacher on top at Monza in first practice

ESPN Staff
September 7, 2012
Michael Schumacher was over 0.3s clear of the rest of the field © Sutton Images

Michael Schumacher finished first practice for the Italian Grand Prix at the top of the timing sheets as Mercedes' straight-line prowess looks likely to give them a chance of a better result this weekend.

Schumacher was 0.301s clear of last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix winner Jenson Button who just edged out the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso by less than a tenth of a second. Schumacher set his time - a 1.25.442 - relatively early in the session as all drivers stuck to the harder compound tyres in the morning.

The top six was filled by Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari, with Felipe Massa fifth, 0.439s off the pace, and Hamilton 0.522s off the pace. Kimi Raikkonen finished seventh ahead of Sergio Perez, while the highest-placed Red Bull was Mark Webber in ninth. Pastor Maldonado rounded out the top ten ahead Sebastian Vettel in 11th, who was over a second off Schumacher's pace.

Alonso stopped on track with five minutes remaining as his Ferrari appeared to suffer a rare technical problem. He got out of the car at the first chicane in front of a stand packed with adoring Tifosi, but made a quick return to the pits to discuss the problem with his engineers. Pastor Maldonado also stopped on track towards the end of the session coming out of the second chicane, again it appeared to be some sort of technical problem.

Ma Qing Hua became the first Chinese driver to take part in a free practice session at a grand prix and completed 26 laps in Narain Karthikeyan's HRT. His best time was a 1:31.239, 5.817s off Schumacher's time and just under two seconds off team-mate Pedro de la Rosa.

Jerome d'Ambrosio stood in for his first practice session of the weekend in place of the suspended Romain Grosjean. He completed a very solid 29 laps and set the 15th fastest time, albeit over a second off team-mate Raikkonen. Jules Bianchi and Valtteri Bottas were also standing in at Force India and Williams respectively for one-off sessions.