Jenson Button has headed the opening practice timesheets for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, edging out Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel by less than one-tenth of a second at the end of the 90-minute session.

Jenson Button lapped fastest in FP1 Held in dry conditions, the session was more than half-run before anyone posted remotely competitive times, with team using the opening exchanges to evaluate different set-up compromises. With Monza being the last of the true low-downforce circuits on the calendar, teams are faced with the tough task of wringing out as much straight-line speed as possible without compromising cornering ability.

As such, several teams faced the prospect of ditching their ‘F-ducts’ for this weekend’s event, while Toro Rosso chose this event to belatedly debut their iteration of the downforce-stalling concept (pictured below left).

Toro Rosso's F-duct Red Bull splashed high-visibility aero paint on the rear wing

Button’s McLaren ran with a surprisingly high amount of rear wing angle, while Red Bull ran with high visibility paint on its rear wing to evaluate the air flow around the back of the car (pictured above right).

At the end of the session, Hamilton was the only other driver to dip into the 1m23s barrier. Robert Kubica wound up fourth-quickest for Renault, while Nico Rosberg seemingly belied the pre-race expectations that Mercedes GP would struggle this weekend, hauling his W01 to fifth on the timesheets.

Mark Webber finished up sixth-quickest in the second Red Bull, ahead of Vitantonio Liuzzi’s Force India, who headed the home favourites, Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso proving quicker than team-mate Felipe Massa. Michael Schumacher rounded out the top ten on the timesheets.

Nico Hülkenberg finished up eleventh-quickest in the Williams, while Paul di Resta made his return to the sister Force India in his ongoing role as the team’s Friday test driver and was twelfth quickest.

Of the three new teams, Timo Glock lapped quickest in his Virgin Cosworth, and just eight-tenths off the pace of Jaime Alguersuari and only one-tenth quicker than JArno Trulli in the Lotus and Lucas di Grassi in the sister VR-01.

Heikki Kovalainen lost a bucketload of time with yet another Xtrac hydraulics leak on his installation lap, with the Finn winding up 21st overall.

Bruno Senna had an equally fraught session when his Hispania team unearthed a brake fluid leak in his car – hardly the type of technical failure you want on this high-speed circuit! He joined the action towards the end of the session, but completed just eight circuits before stopping again.

His compatriot Rubens Barrichello managed even fewer laps, stopping at the exit of the second Lesmo corner with a loss of drive.


2010 Italian GP Practice 1 Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes 1:23.693 28
2. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault + 0.097 27
3. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes + 0.274 25
4. Robert Kubica POL Renault + 0.427 25
5. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP + 0.436 30
6. Mark Webber AU Red Bull Renault + 0.753 26
7. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA_thumb2[1] Force India Mercedes + 0.819 19
8. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari + 0.850 24
9. Felipe Massa BRA Ferrari + 0.955 22
10. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP + 1.063 26
11. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Williams Cosworth + 1.148 28
12. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes + 1.230 23
13. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault + 1.599 25
14. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari + 1.625 29
15. Pedro de la Rosa ESP Sauber Ferrari + 1.627 20
16. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari + 1.641 24
17. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari + 2.204 19
18. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth + 3.079 19
19. Jarno Trulli ITA_thumb2[1] Lotus Cosworth + 3.205 12
20. Lucas di Grassi BRA Virgin Racing Cosworth + 3.263 17
21. Heikki Kovalainen FIN_thumb[2] Lotus Cosworth + 3.681 14
22. Bruno Senna BRA HRT Cosworth + 4.563 8
23. Rubens Barrichello BRA Williams Cosworth + 4.823 4
24. Sakon Yamamoto JPN HRT Cosworth + 6.177 17

[Original images via AUTOSPORT and Sutton Images]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.