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Button quickest in opening session

NEWS STORY
10/09/2010

Ahead of today's first free practice session the air temperature is 21 degrees C, while the track temperature is 16 degrees. It is nice and sunny, and it is expected to remain that way for the rest of the weekend.

Spa saw the number of title hopefuls effectively reduced from five to two however, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso might have other ideas about that.

While this is the last European race of the season, and at one of the most popular tracks on the calendar, the main talking point in the decision by the WMSC not to take further action against Ferrari for its use of team orders in Germany.

The lights go green and Buemi leads the way, followed by Trulli, Liuzzi, de la Rosa, Petrov, Glock, di Grassi and di Resta.

Because of the nature of the superfast Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, almost all the teams are running upgrades. Most notably, the McLarens are sporting massive rear wings. It was the Woking team that pioneered the controversial F-duct device, and there is much speculation this weekend as to who will and who won't be using their version. In this particular session - certainly for their installation lap - most of the teams that have F-duct systems are running them.

Schumacher is the first driver to post a time, the German - a multi time winner here - crossing the line at 1:31.396. Next time around the Mercedes driver improves with a 29.061.

Ten minutes into the session all but Yamamoto and Senna have been out, Schumacher (28.150) being the only driver to have posted a time.

Seventeen minutes into the session Button heads down the pitlane, looking to be the second driver to post a time, the Englishman dives into the pitlane at the end of his flying lap. Elsewhere, Schumacher is back on track, the German immediately improving with a 26.805.

A 30.034 sees Alguersuari go second as Schumacher raises the benchmark with a 26.341.

Approaching the half hour, Hamilton is on track and looking to post a time. Elsewhere, Alguersuari posts 26.197 in response to Schumacher's 26.038.

On his first flying lap, Hamilton posts 25.816. Interestingly, he's 10 kph slower than Alguersuari through the main speedtrap. Hulkenberg goes fourth with a 28.679 as Hamilton improves to 24.990.

Kobayashi gets it wrong at the first chicane, the kerbs - always a problem at Monza - lifting the car right off the ground. Nonetheless, on his first flying lap the Sauber driver - who has retained his seat for next season - goes fifth with a 27.109.

Vettel's first flying lap sees the German go sixth with a 27.004, as Webber goes tenth and Rosberg eleventh.

As Vettel improves to second (25.455), it's noticeable that a number of drivers are having problems at the first chicane, making full use of the escape road.

As Vettel goes quickest (24.450), Barrichello parks his Williams by the side of the track at the second Lesmo. Rosberg heads back to the pits having complained about his brakes.

At half-time, it's: Vettel, Hamilton, Webber, Button, Rosberg, Alguersuari, Hulkenberg, Schumacher, Buemi and Alonso.

Vettel ups the ante with a 24.450 as Button goes second and Alonso fourth. Next time around, having gone quickest in the first sector, Button closes to within 0.247s of Vettel. While Yamamoto has completed 1 lap, Hispania teammate Bruno Senna has yet to make an appearance, the Brazilian having suffered a brake problem.

A 23.756 sees Button go quickest as Kubica takes third with a 24.159.

As Button improves with a 23.693 it looks as though McLaren's gamble - in terms of its rear wing - might be paying off. While the opposition is running its rear wings almost flat, as is ever the case here, the wing on the McLaren is far more vertically raised. At a circuit where there is always a compromise between straightline speed and cornering downforce, the Woking team is bravely pushing the envelope.

With the first chicane continuing to catch out drivers, and three drivers (Trulli, Kovalainen and Senna) yet to post a time, Button remains quickest, ahead of Vettel, Hamilton, Kubica and Rosberg.

With 29:02 on the clock, Senna finally leaves the pits. Teammate Yamamoto is currently slowest of those drivers that have posted times, the Japanese driver on 30.698, 7.005s off Button's pace.

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