Lewis Hamilton ignores speculation to hit top speed

 

Monza

If Lewis Hamilton were to use yesterday's form at Monza as an arbiter of whether to stay with McLaren or move to Mercedes next year, he would have got little further in settling his current dilemma.

Michael Schumacher dominated the morning session of practice for tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix with a best lap of the famed speedway just outside Milan of 1 minute, 25.422 seconds. In the afternoon Hamilton led the field from team-mate Jenson Button, with 1min 25.290sec to 1min 25.328sec. Decisions, decisions…

Where Schumacher used excellent straightline speed and Pirelli's hard tyre to set his best time in the first session, before suffering DRS problems in the second, Hamilton and Button both used the medium-compound tyres and the low downforce set-up which had worked so well for McLaren last week when Button won as he pleased in Belgium.

"Monza is an absolutely stunning place on which to drive," Hamilton said. "The speeds are incredible and, when you get the flow right, it feels simply amazing. It's very, very quick. It's somewhat deceptive, too: a map of the track makes it look quite simple, but it's actually incredibly technical. It's also bumpy, which means it's incredibly difficult to nail those final thousandths on a quick lap.

"And that's really what today has been all about: we're trying to fine-tune the balance and find the tiniest amounts of time. It's extremely tight. Overall, it's been quite productive, and everything has gone smoothly. Hopefully, we're not in a bad position, although there are still things we can improve on the car."

As he and Button hit straightline speeds of 322 kmh, their pace suggests they can be competitive tomorrow, though the times as ever were close and Ferrari and Mercedes will also compete. Red Bull, however, struggled over single laps. "We're working hard, but we're not there yet," admitted Mark Webber, 11th fastest. "We were a bit more competitive on the longer runs in practice today. We often find a good step ahead of qualifying."

Last year's dominant winner here, Sebastian Vettel, was only 13th, and said: "I think overall we are not as quick as we would like to be, so there's still work to do. I think we are more competitive in race trim, but we aren't where we want to be yet in terms of true pace. We ran through our entire programme, so we got a lot of information to go through and learn from."

At the back of the field Ma Qing Hua made a little bit of history as he became the first Chinese driver ever to participate in a Formula One grand prix session when he took over Narain Karthikeyan's HRT in the morning. He had a few adventures, in which he was definitely not alone as many drivers outbraked themselves into Monza's notorious chicanes, and acquitted himself well by getting within two seconds of team-mate Pedro de la Rosa who was making his 100th grand prix appearance. Though crowds habitually are low at the Chinese GP, the country is seen as a significant area of potential growth for the sport and an indigenous driver will help that.

"It was an extraordinary experience and I'm happy with my performance," Qing Hua said. "From the start I felt comfortable in the car and working with the team, and I accomplished all the targets we set. We started with quite a long stint on hard tyres and then we made changes to the set-up as I adapted to the F112.

"It was an important step for me, but also for motorsport in China since it's a very young sport there but with great potential".

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent