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".

Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect