Pirelli’s home race weekend in the historic surroundings of Monza got underway with the usual two free practice sessions on Friday. Lewis Hamilton set fastest time in the morning session for McLaren on the P Zero White medium tyres with a benchmark of 1m23.865s.
In the afternoon, Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel was quickest with a time of 1m24.010s, set during an eight-lap run on the soft tyres. It was also an impressive run from Hamilton in second and Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher in third with the soft tyres – at the Italian circuit where the seven-time World Champion first announced his retirement back in 2006.
As usual, the drivers used the free practice sessions to experiment with different fuel loads, as well seeing the effects of DRS and KERS. An important part of free practice this year is assessing the behaviour of the tyres, in order to find the right compromise between performance, durability and consistency. All the teams were pleased with the tyre performance at Monza, reporting no problems at the fastest circuit of the year after assessing several different parameters.
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery commented: “Conditions were particularly tough today because of the heat at Monza as well as the usual high speeds, so we didn’t see much evolution of the track from the morning to the afternoon. Despite this heavy punishment, the tyres performed well – especially the medium, with Lewis Hamilton making the most of the cooler conditions in the morning. We’re analysing the data throughout the afternoon, but there appears to be no blistering outside the usual parameters for this circuit. From a company point of view, it’s an amazing feeling to be racing here on our home territory and we’ve enjoyed some fantastic support from all the fans here so far. With six drivers within half a second of Sebastian Vettel this afternoon and two extensive DRS zones, it’s going to be a very fast and closely-fought qualifying session tomorrow.”
As well as forming a backdrop to the action on track, Pirelli also hosted a unique photographic exhibition in the Paddock Club today, celebrating more than 100 years of motorsport. The exhibition contained previously unseen images and documents detailing Pirelli’s heritage in Formula One as well as many other forms of motorsport worldwide.
Pirelli fact of the day
Pirelli’s elongated P logo, which is on all the Formula One tyres, was first seen on the 1908 New York to Paris Rally, as a way of telling the Italian tyres apart from all their rivals. One year earlier; Pirelli won the 1907 Peking-Paris Rally; the press release announcing this historic achievement was hand-written in ink and posted to a few selected Italian newspapers.
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