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Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 14:43 UK

Sutil on top as Force India shine

ITALIAN GRAND PRIX
Venue: Monza Dates: 11-13 September 2009 Coverage: Live coverage of Friday practice, Saturday qualifying and Sunday's race - which starts at 1300 BST - across BBC TV, radio and online platforms. Find full listings here

Force India's Adrian Sutil

Highlights - Sutil fastest at Monza

By Sean Chaney

Force India's Adrian Sutil continued his team's good recent form with the fastest lap in Friday's second practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Sutil was 0.239 seconds faster than Renault's Romain Grosjean as his team look to build on their first podium finish, achieved in Belgium in August.

Brawn's championship leader Jenson Button was 19th while McLaren's morning pace-setter Lewis Hamilton was 11th.

The Red Bull duo of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were 14th and 18th.

Sutil topped the timesheets for much of the second session but Renault rookie Grosjean, competing in only his third grand prix, nipped in with a faster effort in the closing stages to briefly lead the way.

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That provoked an immediate response from Sutil who promptly clocked an effort of one minute 23.924 to set the fastest time of the day.

"It was a very, very good time," said Sutil, "it came as a result of some good work, a great set-up and getting the tyres to work well.

"Everything went well today. The car was working perfectly and we can be very happy about the result.

"We didn't try specifically to go fastest but if you are on top of your game and the car is working well there is no reason why you could not be P1 at the end of the session.

"It was a very productive day on a very cool track and it's good to have some fun right now."

Giancarlo Fisichella finished second for Force India in the last race in Belgium, but the 36-year-old Italian has since been drafted in by Ferrari to replace the beleaguered Luca Badoer for the rest of the season.

Fisichella made a promising start in the day's first practice session by out-performing team-mate Kimi Raikkonen but he was bottom of the timesheets after the second session, 1.619 seconds off the pace.

Practice sessions are rarely the most reliable barometer of race pace as teams often use Friday's two 90-minute run-outs to analyse and assess how their cars react to various fuel, aerodynamic and technical scenarios.

Sutil topped the timesheets in third practice for the European Grand Prix in August, but the 26-year-old German finished 10th in Valencia.

The ban on in-season testing this year has meant Friday practice sessions have been even harder to decode as there is no way of knowing what fuel loads or race set-ups the teams are running.

Brawn boss Ross Brawn confirmed that his team had used Friday's sessions to understand how their cars would react to the unique low down force challenge of Monza.

"The fact that we haven't had the opportunity to test here this year, meant Friday's practice sessions were particularly important to work on the set-up of the car," said Brawn.

"It feels very different running with such low downforce, said Button, "but the car has been performing reasonably well.

"We need to work on the fine-tuning of the set-up overnight to ensure that I'm completely happy with the balance before qualifying."

McLaren's Hamilton set the pace in the morning session in Monza but the defending world champion was 11th quickest in the second session.

"This afternoon was spent on heavier fuel-loads, confirmed Hamilton. "So you can't read too much into the times, but I'm encouraged by where we are."

Hamilton's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen backed up his second-quickest time in the morning session by going fourth quickest in an unpredictable second session and the Finn said afterwards that he thought the Kers power-boost system was a big advantage.

"The Kers advantage here is nearly four 10ths per lap so it's really helpful along the straights and out of the slower corners," said Kovalainen.

Rubens Barrichello

Monza should suit Brawn - Barrichello

"Others have more down force compared with us, but we have this fantastic Kers button.

"It is funny the teams have all adopted different technical solutions but the lap times are still very close together - that's the beauty of Formula 1."

Renault reintroduced their Kers system especially for Monza and that decision seemed to pay dividends as Grosjean and Fernando Alonso set the second and third fastest times on Friday afternoon.

The Kers button makes the car accelerate faster, so it spends longer at a higher speed on the straights than cars without it, which is particularly advantageous on Monza's long high-speed straights.

McLaren, Renault and Ferrari are the only cars running the non-compulsory Kers system in Italy.

Vettel's lowly position of 18th can be partially put down to his need to conserve engines, the German blew two engines at the European Grand Prix in Valencia and has now used seven of his eight engine quota for the season.

While Vettel completed 27 laps on Friday afternoon, his team-mate Webber managed even fewer, just 25, the Australian was kept in his garage as his Red Bull team repaired a chaffed electrical loom.

"It was a mixed day," said Webber. "We had an electrical problem in P2, which probably cost us about a run and a half, so it was a good recovery from the guys to get the car turned back around.

"Mileage is important here, as it's the first time we've driven in Monza this year - normally we test here beforehand.

"We've got a bit of pace to find, but I'm sure we'll be in the running tomorrow."

Button's closest championship challenger, his Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello, was 16th fastest around the low-downforce Monza circuit.



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see also
Italian GP practice as it happened
11 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Italian Grand Prix practice results
10 Sep 09 |  Results
Italian Grand Prix photos
11 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Highlights - Italian GP second practice
11 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Button must relax, warns Mansell
10 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Ferrari put fizz back in Fisichella
11 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Alonso 'surprised' by fix claim
10 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Force India give Liuzzi race seat
07 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Fisichella makes Ferrari switch
03 Sep 09 |  Formula 1


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