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Ahead of this morning's opening session, the air temperature is 23 degrees C and the track temperature is 28 degrees. It is a beautiful, typical Monza morning, with bright sunshine and the grandstands packed with families making the most of the (traditionally) reduced prices.
While other circuits look to the corporate dollar (or whatever), Friday at Monza is traditionally set aside for families. As papa watches the action, mama sorts out the food and children play with grandpapa who regales them with stories of Ascari and the like.
A number of reserve drivers are on duty this morning, Jules Bianchi in for di Resta at Force India, Valtteri Bottas replacing Senna and China's Ma Qing Hua making history at HRT.
And let's not forget that other reserve driver, Jerome d'Ambrosio who stands in for Romain Grosjean following the Swiss driver's ban for that first lap mayhem at Spa.
The lights go green and Vergne is first out, Toro Rosso, which has magical memories of this circuit, out to build on the success it enjoyed at Spa. He is followed by Ma, Ricciardo, Pic, d'Ambrosio and Glock.
Maldonado, another early riser, has a lot of brake dust coming out of his left-front wheel as he arrives at the first chicane.
Tyre options are the same as in Belgium, hard (prime) and medium (option).
A number of cars running flo-viz paint, the wings on the Ferraris greeny-yellow as opposed to the traditional white. Monza is a one-off in terms of set-up, particularly with regards aerodynamics.
Eight minutes into the session everyone has been out, Massa and Hamilton remaining on track to complete a second lap and post times - 1:23.370 for the Brazilian and 31.028 for the Englishman.
After a few minutes of inactivity, Pic breaks the deadlock, the Frenchman subsequently posting a 2:08.214 as light rain begins to fall. Nothing heavy, just a light shower whilst the sun is still shining.
The rain stopped, and barely evidence of it on the track such is the heat, Raikkonen heads down the pitlane followed by Ma. Replay shows the Finn taking a real pounding as he rides the unforgiving kerbs at the first chicane. He subsequently posts 31.042. Hua gets the same chicane all wrong and has to use the escape road.
Next time around Raikkonen posts 28.175, the Lotus driver having gone quickest in S2. Ma, running an awful lot of rear wing, goes fourth with a 36.253.
As Raikkonen raises the benchmark with a 27.369, Hamilton, d'Ambrosio, Vergne, Ricciardo, Perez and Rosberg take to the track.
On his first flying lap, d'Ambrosio goes third with a 28.816 as Hamilton has a massive lock-up at the first chicane.
As Vergne goes quickest in S1, Massa goes second overall with a 28.370. More and more drivers take to the track.
A 26.980 sees Hamilton go quickest, the McLaren driver having gone quickest in S1. Rosberg, who locks up at the second chicane, goes eighth with a 29.215.
Perez goes second with a 27.115 but is quickly demoted by Massa and his 26.790. Lots of talk that these two drivers will be swapping drives for 2013.
Rosberg goes second with a 26.590 as Hamilton continues to set a blistering pace (26.326), the Englishman on a long run.
Schumacher takes second with a 26.545, the German still a firm favourite here. Maldonado goes eighth. Elsewhere, Button and Alonso are on fast laps.
Sure enough, Alonso crosses the line at 26.072 having gone quickest in the two final sectors. Button's lap falls apart in the final sector, the Englishman having been quickest in the first.
Schumacher leapfrogs Alonso with a 25.961, as Button once again goes quickest in S1. Schumacher improves with a 25.422 as Button takes second with a 26.055.
At half-time, it's: Schumacher, Button, Alonso, Massa, Perez, Hamilton, Rosberg, Bottas and Hulkenberg.
Elsewhere, the cameras pick up Grosjean arriving in the paddock, the Frenchman reduced to the roll of spectator this weekend.
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