There were contrasting fortunes for the Mercedes drivers during Friday practice at Monza today: Nico Rosberg lost a lot of track time in the afternoon session after the KERS system on his car needed replacing, but Michael Schumacher finished that same 90-minutes third on the timesheets.
“It’s always a special feeling to be here in Monza,” said Schumacher, looking back on his day. “It began yesterday when I did my lap of the circuit, saw the tifosi and enjoyed the particular atmosphere of this track. Then going out in the car today, it’s nice to feel what comes across from the fans – it reminds me of being at my home races.
“In terms of the character of the circuit, we are usually good on braking and traction, and there are not so many of the medium and high-speed corners in which we have not been so strong this year. It certainly looks good in terms of my position today, and I’m pleased with that; but we will only find out tomorrow what it is really worth.”
Whilst Schumacher was beaten by only Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton in that afternoon session, Rosberg finished down in P22 after not having time for a low-fuel run.
“I didn’t have an ideal session this afternoon as we had some issues, particularly with the KERS problem at the start of the session,” said the German. “However by the end of the day, we have learned quite a lot for the race, and importantly I was able to get used to the track. Monza is a very different circuit from many others with the high speed sectors and low downforce corners and it takes a bit of time to find your rhythm here.”
Despite the mixed fortunes of his drivers, Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn views the day in a positive light:
“We had two very solid practice sessions today and achieved some good work,” he said. “We had a small problem with Nico’s car this afternoon which required the KERS pack to be changed, and the team did a good job to get him out again so quickly. I’m pleased with our progress over the course of the day, and we’re looking forward to a good weekend at this very special race track.”