Despite dry conditions throughout the day the action and results of the first two 90 minute practice sessions seem to have provided very few clues as to who to watch in qualifying tomorrow.
While the evolving situation at Renault continued to surprise off the track the opening session gave much of what was expected.
On a track that is perhaps the most KERS-friendly of the year it was the two McLarens that led the way, Hamilton (after having overcome the loss of his fuel-filler cap on his very first lap) with a lap of 1m23.936 led from Kovalainen, who was nearly four-tenths adrift.
Behind the Mercedes powered cars, was another one. This one the Force India of Adrian Sutil who showed that the teams Spa performance had not been a mirage, or purely down to Fisichella. Sutil's new team mate, Tonio Liuzzi, returning to a racing F1 cockpit for the first time in two years, enjoyed a day he described as “much better than the straight line testing”, finishing with 16th fastest time in the first session, before improving to 12th in the afternoon practice.
Things, arguably, went somewhat less well for the other driver taking a new seat for Monza. Giancarlo Fisichella endured a “particularly tough” day in his own words, with his primary aim being familiarising himself with the car's systems and getting his first taste of the F60's KERS power.
He turned in a very respectable performance in the first session, narrowly beating Raikkonen. However, he slumped to a Badoer emulating 20th in the second session, and was not the only driver to find his fortunes changed in the second session.
As the teams struggled to find the best low downforce, high speed settings, and the best approach for the new 15cm high kerbs at the chicanes, the order was shuffled again. The Mclaren's that led the first session struggled to re-find that form, although Kovalainen's fourth showed more promise than Hamilton's 11th. The two Renaults, on what Fernando Alonso described as “a normal Friday” despite the furore engulfing his team, took advantage of their own KERS to record the second and third fastest times.
But the teams that qualified well at Spa rose to the top again.
Glock's Toyota eighth, the two BMW's of Kubica and Heidfeld fifth and seventh respectively, but all were beaten by Adrian Sutil in a Force India he described as “working perfectly” who recorded the fastest lap of the day on the softer compound of Bridgestone tyre.
The title rivals at Brawn and Red Bull all completed their planned programs but suffered lacklustre days as far as the timesheets read. Jenson Button's seventh in the first session was the best result of any of the four all day, although the Briton fell to 19th in the second session. Mark Webber may have had the best day of the four contenders, ninth in P1 followed by 14th in a second session marred by an electrical problem in his Red Bull which was still good enough to lead his rivals.
Both sessions were relatively incident free, although most drivers suffered the indignity of having to weave down the escape roads for the chicanes in both sessions with Kazuki Nakajima the only major off track visitor as he ran wide in the Parabolica in the afternoon.
The teams now have a further hour of practice to hone their setups on Saturday morning before qualifying.