Great news for McLaren in advance of next Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton proved to be the fastest driver on day one of Monza testing yesterday.
Hamilton set his speedy lap time on day one of a three-day test in preparation for the September 9 race – one of the season highlights.
He topped the field with 1:24.112 while working on a low-downforce configuration for the race as well as paying attention to aerodynamics and tyres.
However there’s not much room for complacency at McLaren – close behind Hamilton was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, leaving the boy wonder less than two-tenths of a second to spare.
Like Hamilton, he was concentrating on finding the best race set-up and aerodynamic package to cope with the low-downforce Monza circuit – and to make sure Ferrari is flying in its home Grand Prix.
He threw down the gauntlet to his title rival, saying: “It will be tough. I know from experience that McLaren is very strong there.
“It wasn’t by chance that they won the pole here last year. Having said that, let’s go to Monza and win.”
BMW were given some good news by driver Nick Heidfeld, who took third position on the timesheet, also concentrating on new front and rear wings, as well as bodywork.
Super Aguri’s British tester, 24-year-old James Rossiter, took that team’s car for a spin round the famous circuit.
He spent the morning evaluating the aero package for the forthcoming race and completed a programme of set-up work and race starts in the afternoon.
There has been some recent doubts about whether the Italian GP would be able to continue at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza circuit, where it has been held every year since 1950 with just one exception.
The threat to its future came after residents in the northern Italian town launched a bid to have racing at the venue curtailed because of noise.
A 2006 court ruling threatened its future after a judge found in favour of residents who said their lives were made “a living hell” by motor racing. He described the sport as “a superfluous, dangerous and socially useless activity that had a major impact on the environment”.
However the circuit was later cleared to host noisy sporting events for 30 days a year, allowing the historic Grand Prix to go ahead.