Monza Test: Lewis Ahead of Kimi
Weather: air temperature 22/31°C, track temperature 27/42 °C. Sunny.
Lewis Hamilton finished on top of the timesheets on the final day of testing at the Monza circuit in Italy.
The championship leader took over from teammate Heikki Kovalainen to
wrap up McLaren’s preparations for the Italian Grand Prix, setting a
best time of 1:22.967 after 97 laps.
Hamilton’s time was some three tenths of a second slower than that
set by Nick Heidfeld on Thursday, but the Briton was the only driver
who managed to complete a lap in 1:22s today.
World champion Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest for Ferrari, albeit nearly four tenths behind Hamilton.
"It was a good day, during which we looked to fine tune the car for
this track as well as trying a few new things," said Raikkonen, who met
with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo during the test. "I would
say we have done a good job, even if it is too early to say what the
situation will be here during the race weekend.
"It was a pleasure to meet with President Montezemolo, who visited
the track today. Now we have to try and do everything as well as
possible to get back to winning again, starting with the race in Spa.
The world championship? I will give it my best shot and then we can
count the points at the end."
The Finnish driver worked
on finding the best set-up for the car for the race that takes place at
this track on 14th September, as well as on development of aerodynamic
and mechanical solutions for the remainder of the season.
Scuderia will be back on track on Tuesday 2nd September at Fiorano,
when Luca Badoer will carry out the shakedown of the cars that will be
used in the Belgian Grand Prix, which takes place on 7th September at
the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:22.967 97
2. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:23.371 79
3. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:23.632 114
4. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:23.634 99
5. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:23.737 120
6. Alonso Renault (B) 1:23.820 80
7. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:23.865 77
8. Glock Toyota (B) 1:23.897 79
9. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:24.089 57
10. Button Honda (B) 1:24.321 96
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has pledged his support for
struggling world champion Kimi Raikkonen and dismissed speculation the
driver might be replaced by Fernando Alonso.
The Finn, who hasn’t won a race in the last four months, has been
rumoured to be forced out of the Italian team next year, despite having
a contract running to the end of 2009, with the two-time Spanish
champion in line for the coveted drive.
However, when questioned by the Italian media on whether the driver
line-up at Maranello would remain the same next year, di Montezemolo
replied: "Absolutely, yes."
Asked if that meant that Alonso should put his mind at rest then,
the Italian said: "I don’t know if he can put his mind at rest, poor
guy, at the moment it’s up to him. I was sorry to see a great champion
like him be out of the top ten at Valencia.
"But with regards to Ferrari, he can put his mind at rest."
Di Montezemolo added: "All this criticism (of Raikkonen) reminds me
of when (Filippo) Inzaghi was at Juventus: if he didn’t score for three
games, everyone would say he was in crisis.
"It can’t be forgotten that he’s the world champion, and that last
year he won in his first season with Ferrari, while many people never
thought he would do so. Now he has 17 victories and I hope he’ll get
back to winning ways in the next Grand Prix in Belgium. Anyway, he’s
not a driver in crisis.
"Kimi is motivated and we must work to put him in the conditions to
start races nearer the front, especially on these new circuits which I
don’t like and are bad for F1: you can’t overtake on them, and nine
times out of ten the man on pole wins."
During yesterday’s Formula One testing session in Monza, Raikkonen was visited by di Montezemolo.
Asked what his president had told him, the Finn was quoted as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport: "He didn’t tell me anything in particular. I already had a contract (for 2009), so it’s nothing new for me.
"Today’s test went well, we’ve tried different solutions to several
small problems. In the next races we’ll do our best to win and we’ll
see how it ends up."