Hamilton shrugs aside doubts about future to record fastest Monza practice time

By Sportsmail Reporter

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Lewis Hamilton put to one side speculation surrounding his future by posting the quickest time in practice ahead of Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

With Hamilton refusing to rule out a switch to Mercedes from next year, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh insisted the 27-year-old was fully focused on the weekend's race around Monza.

That's more like it: Lewis Hamilton impressed

That's more like it: Lewis Hamilton impressed

Good work: Jenson Button finished second in practice

Good work: Jenson Button finished second in practice

With a desire to get his title challenge back on track after becoming embroiled in a four-car pile-up at the first corner of the Belgian Grand Prix five days ago, Hamilton could not have wished for a better start to his weekend.

The 27-year-old spearheaded a McLaren one-two, with Jenson Button again second on the timesheet.

Dropped away: Schumacher (above) and Rosberg (below) showed promising signs in first practice

Dropped away: Schumacher (above) and Rosberg (below) showed promising signs in first practice

Leading the way: Schumacher (above) and Rosberg (below) showed promising signs on Friday

The 32-year-old finished just 0.038secs adrift, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in close attendance on his team's home turf as he was 0.058secs down on Hamilton.

Like the Briton, championship leader Alonso was also involved in the La Source smash sparked by Lotus' Romain Grosjean for which he is banned from this race, the first driver to receive such a punishment in F1 for 18 years.

Alonso's lead in the standings has been whittled down to just 24 points by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, but with the Milton Keynes-based team again appearing to struggle for initial pace.

Promising: Hamilton shrugged aside speculation to post the fastest time

Promising: Hamilton shrugged aside speculation to post the fastest time

Vettel and team-mate Mark Webber were 11th and 13th, 0.814secs and 1.104secs behind Hamilton, sandwiching Grosjean's replacement in Jerome D'Ambrosio.

Competing in the Lotus for the first time this season, and in an F1 car since being dropped by Virgin Racing - now Marussia - at the end of last year, the Belgian produced a credible display.

D'Ambrosio found himself 0.867secs behind Hamilton, but more comparatively was just 0.653secs off of more illustrious team-mate Kimi Raikkonen who was sixth quickest.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa was fourth behind his own team-mate in Alonso, with Nico Rosberg fifth for Mercedes.

Kickaround: Rosberg plays football in the paddock

Kickaround: Rosberg plays football in the paddock

Kickaround: Rosberg plays football in the paddock

Force India pair Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg were seventh and eighth, with the top eight covered by a fraction over a quarter of a second such was the tight-knit nature of the 90-minute session.

Sauber's Sergio Perez was then over half a second adrift in ninth ahead of Michael Schumacher in his Mercedes, the 43-year-old rounding out the top 10, 0.8secs down.

On the Button: Jenson was looking strong again

On the Button: Jenson was looking strong again

On the Button: Jenson was second fastest on Friday morning

As per usual, HRT pair Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan propped up the standings over three seconds down.

In first practice, Karthikeyan had given way to Ma Qing Hua, the 26-year-old becoming the first driver from China to take part in a F1 weekend.

 

 

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

If you start ar the back you have further to race, so the races are never fair I thought this was a stupid comment - but then I realised it was true - weird!!

Click to rate     Rating   3

Hamilton has said he doesn't know who he will be driving for next year, even though McLaren want him and probably offered him an excellent pay package and probably a competitive car(they usually do).- Gav, Suffolk, 8/9/2012 0:43--------------McLaren has a funny way of showing they want him, the amount of times they've messed Hamiliton about, between races.

Click to rate     Rating   8

Hamilton has said he doesn't know who he will be driving for next year, even though McLaren want him and probably offered him an excellent pay package and probably a competitive car(they usually do). So even if he stays it's because of more money rather than loyalty to the team that have give him a golden path to success and chosen him over a modern day great, Alonso. Is this wrong?

Click to rate     Rating   5

Mclaren/Ham looks quick. Better qualifier than JB. But will he manage his tyres well enough? and if he does get overtaken by anyone will his head be on the job or not to get back in front. I think not! on his mind!

Click to rate     Rating   13

Hamliton should just leave McLaren. He's been there a long time, and McLaren are doing nothing apart from messing up, and saying they have new parts to test every five minutes. Ross Brawn, and Mercedes would give Hamilton the proper strategic, and technical support to become champion again.

Click to rate     Rating   6

If you start ar the back you have further to race, so the races are never fair. - bromelia , ely, 07/9/2012 18:43 Intelligence is becoming a rare commodity.

Click to rate     Rating   11

If you start ar the back you have further to race, so the races are never fair. - bromelia , ely, 07/9/2012 18:43 Intelligence is becoming a rare commodity.

Click to rate     Rating   6

Red Arrow away ...... But for god's sake get off Lewis's back , let the lad alone , he's a great F1 driver .... end of

Click to rate     Rating   28

RG is one bad starter, he's caused how many starting crashes??? A few anyway

Click to rate     Rating   11

If you start ar the back you have further to race, so the races are never fair.

Click to rate     Rating   33

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