Find out more about our subscriptions

Italian GP: Michael Schumacher leads first practice for Mercedes

Michael Schumacher set the fastest time for Mercedes in the first free practice session for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

With speculation surrounding the German's future beyond 2012 continuing in the paddock, Schumacher came out firing with a 1m25.422s lap that no one could get within 0.3 seconds of.

Closest to him was Belgian GP winner Jenson Button (McLaren), who was sandwiched by the other Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in third position.

Fernando Alonso was fourth quickest, having stopped his Ferrari at the first chicane with five minutes to go after suffering a suspected engine failure.

Alonso's team-mate Felipe Massa was fifth ahead of Lewis Hamilton in sixth, Kimi Raikkonen seventh. Sergio Perez, Mark Webber and Pastor Maldonado completed the top 10.

The Williams man also stopped out on the circuit just prior to the first Lesmo in the final moments.

After the usual exploratory tracks early in the session to assess grip levels, it was Schumacher that remained fastest for much of the morning in the rapid-down-the-straights Mercedes once the session swung into action properly.

First Massa, and then Raikkonen, posted early fliers before Hamilton emerged from the pits to set what was probably the first leaf-free lap on a track that cleaned up through the first half of the session.

Hamilton's time was a 1m26.346s, and the McLaren man set it just after the halfway mark.

It was not long after that Schumacher posted his best time, and that would stand for the rest of the 90 minutes.

A lap later though and he was bouncing over the bumps at the Rettifilio. He was not the only man to do so during the session, with Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel, Webber, Massa and F1 rookie Ma Qing Hua among others to smash over the kerbs at the first and second chicanes.

Hua - the first Chinese-born driver to take part in an official F1 session as he stepped in for Narian Karthikeyan at HRT for this session - did a reasonable job. He shaved five seconds from his early times to get within two of team-mate Pedro de la Rosa by the end.

World champion Vettel could not quite break into the top 10, just four thousandths slower than Maldonado, while Lotus sub Jerome D'Ambrosio was 15th, just over a second slower than Raikkonen.

Pos  Driver              Car                   Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1m25.422s            26
 2.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      1m25.723s  + 0.301s  29
 3.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1m25.762s  + 0.340s  26
 4.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1m25.800s  + 0.378s  22
 5.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               1m25.861s  + 0.439s  27
 6.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      1m25.944s  + 0.522s  30
 7.  Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault         1m26.046s  + 0.624s  25
 8.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        1m26.323s  + 0.901s  26
 9.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1m26.390s  + 0.968s  24
10.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Renault      1m26.504s  + 1.082s  19
11.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1m26.508s  + 1.086s  18
12.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes  1m26.518s  + 1.096s  21
13.  Valtteri Bottas     Williams-Renault      1m26.641s  + 1.219s  26
14.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1m26.746s  + 1.324s  23
15.  Jerome d'Ambrosio   Lotus-Renault         1m27.180s  + 1.758s  29
16.  Jules Bianchi       Force India-Mercedes  1m27.192s  + 1.770s  22
17.  Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m27.373s  + 1.951s  25
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m27.789s  + 2.367s  24
19.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham-Renault      1m27.855s  + 2.433s  27
20.  Vitaly Petrov       Caterham-Renault      1m28.578s  + 3.156s  20
21.  Charles Pic         Marussia-Cosworth     1m28.751s  + 3.329s  26
22.  Timo Glock          Marussia-Cosworth     1m29.207s  + 3.785s  21
23.  Pedro de la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth          1m29.331s  + 3.909s  21
24.  Ma Qing Hua         HRT-Cosworth          1m31.239s  + 5.817s  26

All timing unofficial
  More news  
Read the AUTOSPORT Digital Edition
Visit the shop
See highlights from 60 years of AUTOSPORT
Breaking news feed
Live commentary feed
Hamilton wins dramatic Italian GP
Hamilton heads McLaren Monza front row
Hamilton leads close final practice
Hamilton fastest in second practice