McLaren head second practice as Alonso hits trouble

2012 Italian Grand Prix second practice

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Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button topped the times in the second practice session at Monza.

Less than four-hundredths of a second separated the two McLaren drivers at the top of the times. Behind them was Fernando Alonso a mere two-hundredths of a second slower.

But for the second session in a row the Ferrari driver’s running came to an early end. He coasted back to the pits with an apparent gearbox fault with more than 20 minutes remaining.

Alonso did not reappear, thereby missing much of the high-fuel running at the end of the session.

The top eight drivers were covered by little more than a quarter of a second, with Felipe Massa fourth ahead of Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen and the two Force Indias.

Michael Schumacher, tenth, would probably have been up there with his team mate had he not had a fault with his DRS. It was one of several problems the team had to deal with including a loss of telemetry on Schumacher’s car and another DRS glitch on Rosberg’s.

Schumacher also had concerns with the track. He addressed FIA race director Charlie Whiting at one point, saying the speed bumps in the run-off at the Roggia chicane were a safety hazard. Schumacher described them as “ridiculous”, saying a driver could “break their spine” if they hit them at speed after a brake failure.

Both Red Bull drivers finished the session outside the top ten, with Jerome D’Ambrosio splitting the two RB8s in 12th place.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
14Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’25.290
23Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’25.3280.038
35Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’25.3480.058
46Felipe MassaFerrari1’25.4300.140
58Nico RosbergMercedes1’25.4460.156
69Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’25.5040.214
712Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’25.5470.257
811Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’25.5480.258
915Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’26.0680.778
107Michael SchumacherMercedes1’26.0940.804
112Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’26.1040.814
1210Jerome D’AmbrosioLotus-Renault1’26.1570.867
131Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’26.3941.104
1418Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’26.4041.114
1516Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’26.7241.434
1614Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’26.7301.440
1719Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’26.7831.493
1820Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’26.8411.551
1917Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’26.8641.574
2021Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’27.2221.932
2124Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’27.9442.654
2225Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’27.9682.678
2322Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’28.5753.285
2423Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’28.7793.489

2012 Italian Grand Prix

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Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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72 comments on “McLaren head second practice as Alonso hits trouble”

  1. for sure Mclaren is the team to beat but Ferrari is not so far off which makes me happy even though I’d like to be happier :)
    but before become happier, I should hope Alonso would not get grid penalty from gearbox failure :(

    1. also I guess this would be the darkest weekend for Red Bull.

    2. He won’t. It’s not a race gearbox so it’s fine to change

      1. Good to hear that :)

      2. is this confirmed? source?

        1. Ferrari tweeted that Alonso’s failed gearbox wasn’t the one he uses for the race.

          1. Yes, but the Ferrari team needs fo use a brand new chassis after the crash in spa. First it was the engine, then something broke in the left side of the car and then the gear box let go. Just use a new chassis. Don’t take those chances after that car was hit from every angle in spa.

          2. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
            7th September 2012, 20:58

            @Tete, it is a brand new chassis.

        2. Don’t know where Ryan got it from, but Ferrari team tweet said it wasn’t the race gearbox.

    3. @eggry

      I should hope Alonso would not get grid penalty from gearbox failure

      He won’t according to Ferrari:

      1. thanks Keith :D

      2. I didn’t realise that there was such a thing as a “non-race” gearbox. Every other time I can remember a driver suffering a gearbox failure, they got a penalty for it.

        1. well it might be Ferrari uses different program for gearbox management. I don’t know gearbox regulation good enough.

        2. Same here.. I’m quite confused trying to figure this out. We’ve seen drivers take a 5 place penalty for a gearbox change before the weekend has even started.
          Only thing I can think of is they were using a gearbox that had already lasted 5 weekends. Or because Alonso wasn’t classified last week, they were able to change it without a penalty, but decided to use the old one in practice anyway? I dunno…

        3. The regulations say teams have to use a gearbox for five consecutive races. A gearbox is deemed ‘used’ when it exits the pitlane.
          However they do not say exactly that a driver cant use other gearboxes in the practises, but more importantly as Alonso did not finish in the last race, he is allowed to start another series of five with a new gearbox. We had a similar situation when Button had gearbox failure in Canada, and he didnt get a penatly, as he retired in the last few laps in Monaco.

        4. Hmmm… Something seems very odd here. At the race Ferrari would perhaps most like to win, something pops up that would possibly stop this from happening. Suddenly, a new rule appears! Or maybe it’s a real rule. Who knows? I’ll wait for clarification as I wouldn’t put it past the FIA to be doing something for Ferrari here after everything else we’ve seen this season!

          1. It’s the curse, it started in Belgium and it may hunt Alonso till the end, first the Lotus then the engine, a second later the gearbox and tomorrow a puncture, i’m fortune cooking, but wait and see.

        5. @magnificent-geoffrey In fact it’s not that complicated and we had enough hint at Spa. They can use older gearbox for friday practices. But they have to give their gear ratio on friday evening and can’t change them afterward (probably what most team did during FP1 as we heard lot of them hitting the limiter and almost none by FP2 to avoid McLaren problem of last year and get stuck behind another car).

          And they could change gearbox (as long as the one used has made 5 events or more) until the end of FP2. For full regulation on the subject (28.6d)

          I think

          1. Good info. thanks!

    4. I’m unsure as to Red Bull’s true pace (as they usually sandbag until at least FP3) but this is a slightly worrying sign if they are wanting to retain the championships. Although I have confidence that they will be back on top of the pack come Singapore.

      1. I have confidence that they will be back on top of the pack come Singapore.

        Did Fernando tell you that? :-D

        1. Yes, he’s good at the double bluff;)

  2. I said it during f1 fanatic live and i will say it againg
    “Jerome only +0.867 away from the fastest lap. I’d say not bad at all.”
    He also managed to go faster than S.Vettel.

    1. yeah, lack of mileages and experience with E20, it should be said impressive. Now we will see how he’s good in qualifying and race…

    2. As a fellow Belgian, my fingers are firmly crossed!

    3. If you take in consideration that a full time driver like Massa keeps getting over a second behind his teammate D’Ambrosio that never really impressed on GP2 seems to be doing very well indeed, of course, Massa is doing better this past weekends nonetheless .8 tenths means nothing.

      1. I doubt Hamilton would agree with you ;) He’d probably give you the telemetry sheet to say why it means so much.

    4. .6 sec if compared to Raikonnen … but I suspect it will be more during quali as you need a lot of time in the car to know exactly the limit and nailing the best lap possible. Still great for him, and probably the best position possible for the pressure he could have.

    5. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      7th September 2012, 16:50

      I doff my cap to you jerome.

  3. d’ambrosio has done very well in both sessions – given the circumstances. i’m hoping he can qualify 10th or 11th, and finish around 7th or 8th in the race. he hasn’t put a foot wrong so far – best of luck to him.

    1. Dear F1 Gods
      Please let Lewis have some luck and carry this speed through the weekend.
      Cast lightning at Alonso and the Red Bulls and get this championship back in his favor.

      1. Hmmm that wasn’t supposed to be a reply lol

      2. So your the one that is cursing Alonso, it’s backfiring.

  4. Lotus and Mercs flying on the long run, Ferrari a bit behind but ahead of the Maccas it would seem;

  5. Isn’t this is year’s Monza speaking of better of the engines (till now)?
    All Merc-power, 3 Ferraris and 1 Renault in top 10!

    1. *this year’s

    2. Yes, certainly it’s the most influenced-by-engine weekend. also Red Bull is not good at top speed in Spa as well while Lotus opted quite well here. Still, the engine is not their side.

      1. The thing with RedBull is that they don’t take the same advantage to be able to open DRS anytime during FP and quali, that’s probably the main reason explaining the gap … Expect them to be there on race pace with closed DRS.

  6. I’d love to see Mercedes stay up there and possibly get the win this weekend. The team have had a really hard time of it considering their early season performances, and I would love to see Nico get win #2 or Michael get win #92!
    Ferrari are looking stronger than I expected, as long as nothing else fails on Alonso’s car!

    1. If Mercedes get past the DRS-related problems they experienced today on both their cars, they still have the tyre wear problem to solve…and get the strategies right. As much as I’d love to see Schumacher up there in the top three, I believe it’s quite a long shot.

      I would say they look on par with Lotus though, this weekend. That should put them in contention for 5th or 6th place in the race. Not bad if we take their season so far into account.

      1. The tyre wear may not be that great a factor considering it’s Monza and that Pirelli brought the Medium and Hard compounds. I’d be hopeful of them challenging the podium.
        But yeah, even 5th or 6th would be great considering previous form!

    2. even if tyre problem is there, still this is the best picture for them since Chinese grand prix. also they’re mighty in straight even without DRS so it would be good weekend for him. Podium might be a long shot though.

    3. Good point from Eggry, we saw how difficult it was to pass them last year and they have the same kind of top speed advantage this year. But the whole package car, driver, team, strategy, tyre doesn’t seem there, I don’t see them winning, could always be a surprise.

  7. Up until now it looks close between McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus, with Red Bull, Force India and Sauber, Williams, Torro Rosso…in order further back.

    Long runs and tyre wear it is. At least it’s gonna be damn tough to predict.

    1. Considering Sauber’s pace at Spa was because they were the quickest in the high downforce sector 2, I suspect they wont be making a repeat Dark Horse appearance.

      Alonso vs Mclaren this weekend unfortunatley.

      1. Remember Montreal though? If it’s about long runs and tyre wear I think they’re still in for a shot if you ask me!

  8. When was the last time any session ended with a 1-2, never mind 3-4?

    1. last time for a season with no 1-2 was 1977

    2. looking at times, i’d say it’s 1-2-3.

  9. Force India’s team principle said this in the round-up yesterday: “There is nothing between them and it is a thrill to have two wonderful drivers pushing the limits all the time.”
    My goodness was he right.

    1. Nope, he wasn’t. There’s a millisecond between them.

      1. Yeah, Paul is really lagging behind nico today. Horrendous

      2. Depends how you want to interpret it. There are no drivers between them.

    2. Completely agree. I remember tipping the Di Resta vs Hulkeberg battle to be the most evenly matched teammate battle of the year… and so far they seem like the most evenly matched teammates.

  10. Good showing from the Caterham folks today, mixing it up with the Toro Rosso’s and Kobayashi. Although I’m sure they’ll have something in reserve for quali, it shows the progress that Caterham have made. Also credit to Marussia who are hundreth-by-hundreth are edging forwards too.

    Of course, this is only practice, things will probably be different come end of Q1 tomorrow, but encouraging signs none-the-less.

  11. Red Bull sandbagging or a general lack of pace? I guess we’ll find out in Q2/3 for sure…

    1. general lack of pace, surely, at least at this early stage. They are no “Friday Kings ” as Webber said.

  12. Qualli might get interesting again but somewhat not close, neither will the race be, the Mclarens are good for a one two and Ferrari for 3rd, i really don’t like to see a grid dominated by cars rather than pilots, it’s remembering of the bad days perhaps for a good reason, Mclarens 1st and 2nd, Ferraris 3rd and 4th and the FI if it weren’t for different programs, this stat sheet could show even more pairings.

  13. Can anyone else access the practice lap times from I keep getting a 404 error.

  14. Don’t know if I got the various reports correctly. But it seems that Fernandos best time was set on the hard rubber while the McLarens did theirs on the soft? Anyone that can confirm?

    1. Alonso’s lap was on medium too

      1. Ok, thanks for filling me in…. and darn it, I was pinning some hope to the tires. I’d really like to see Fernando on pole @ Monza. Just feels right.

  15. I believe Schumacher would have topped the time sheet with his lap, DRS makes up for approximately 0.7/8 tenths per lap. If not, he certainly would have made the top 3 which is looking positive. Time will tell if this is a true reflection of the car’s pace compared to the rest of the field.

    He also looked decent on the long runs so hopefully, this time Mercedes don’t let him down in qualifying and especially the race, like they have at every single race so far this season and even in today’s session (DRS issues with both his car and Rosberg).

    Mercedes, come on!! When are you going to sort it all out? It’s starting to become a rhetorical question which is plain embarrassing!

    1. Oops…should read 7/8 tenths per lap^^

    2. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      7th September 2012, 17:47

      I agree we should know for sure at the end of fp3.

  16. People always start talking about Red Bull struggling on Fridays, However even when Vettel was dominating last year they were very rarely near the top of the results on Fridays as they tend to put more focus on race pace.

    Looking back at this year Red Bull have often seemed to struggle in practice yet had good pace come the race & based off Webber’s comments on sky after FP2 there very happy with race pace again this weekend.

    1. Well they are happy with race pace, but here in Monza with the top speed they have and with a terrible performance over a single lap, they will struggle.
      I mean, today they weren’t able to do a lap under one minute and 26, which is quite alarming. If it keeps on like that they will struggle to get into Q3. And from then you have to do a perfect race to achieve a podium.

      1. @yobo01 Not necessarily. They had a similar car philosophy last year, qualified P1 and won the race. I don’t actually expect they will this year as they won’t enjoy as much of a performance gap, but things won’t be anywhere near as bad as FP would suggest.

  17. Can anyone give some information reg. whether mercedes has brought an update for their front or rear wings ? Read on another site that they have brought an update and calling it as Triple DRS !!

      1. @andrewtanner Thanks for sharing link :)

        So is it possible that DRS problem which both mercedes drivers faced yesterday was caused due to this new upgrade?

  18. Looks like Narain put his foot down during this session. Feeling the burn from Ma by any chance? ;)

    Things look really tight. It seems that D’Ambrosio is capable of faster still, given that he will have spent most of FP1 familiarising himself with the circuit. Top end of Q2 or Q3 would be good for him and the team I think.

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