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LIVE COMMENTARY: 2008 ITALIAN GRAND PRIX - FRIDAY PRACTICE
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: Friday Practice
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
07:30 Good morning and welcome to autosport.com Live, for the 14th round of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship - the Italian Grand Prix at the evocative Monza circuit.

Today on autosport.com Live we will be bring you text commentary and updates from the Friday practice sessions. The schedule looks like this:

07:30 - 08:00 Setting the scene to ease you into the Formula One weekend.
08:00 - 09:30 Live commentary and updates from the morning practice session.
09:30 - 12:00 Continuing track and weather updates and any breaking news from the circuit.
12:00 - 13:30 Live commentary and updates from the second practice session of the day.
13:30 - 14:00 End of day reaction and round-up, where we go from here, and what to look out for on Saturday.
14:00 Autosport.com Live commentary ends for today.

07:32 Share your views on the race weekend as it happens ...

Will Ferrari or McLaren emerge on top? Will the Ferrari powerplant in the back of the Toro Rosso see the team shine this weekend? Will the inclement weather that is predicted alter the team's working strategies for the weekend?

If you are an autosport.com forum member, you can do this by clicking the SHOW LIVE FORUM link in the red bar at the bottom of the page. Join the lively debate and share your hopes and fears for the race weekend while the action takes place on track.

07:35 The weather today can best be described as changable. Rain showers and small thunderstorms are already building to the south-west, with more on the way as shown by the latest radar images.

The forecast for today is for a mainly dry first session, with the showers expected for later this afternoon. As you can see, the threat of rain is developing early, but for now we anticiapte a dry start to proceedings.

The air temperature is predicted to reach 24 degrees Celsius. With less than two hours sunshine anticipated today, track temperatures will be low, possibly staying under 30 degrees for the duration of the day.

Kerbs07:40 The dramatic race in Belgium and the controversial post-race stewards' modification of the result has shrunk Lewis Hamilton's lead in the drivers' championship to two points from Felipe Massa, pending McLaren's appeal of the penalty imposed on Hamilton.

With the pair now clearly locked in battle for the title, Robert Kubica lies third in the series - 18 points behind the leader - and Kimi Raikkonen has slipped to fourth, a further point adrift.

Ferrari gained an increased advantage in the constructors' race from the revised Spa result, with the gap now 12 points to McLaren.

While BMW Sauber lie in a solid third, keeping a watching brief on the leaders, the best battle in this points table is between Toyota and Renault over fourth.

Renault gained considerable ground in Spa, with a strong performance from Fernando Alonso, while Toyota struggled to make their car work on the circuit. The scrap over fourth is likely to go all the way to Brazil, with each of the circuits playing to the strengths and weaknesses of both challengers.

Williams and Toro Rosso are tied on points for seventh, with the recent strong form of the latter likely to see them take the place very soon.

Monza Test07:45 Two weeks ago the teams travelled to Monza for a three-day test, in order to run the cars in low-downforce configuration ahead of this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

The 3.6 mile circuit is the last of the sport's high-speed tracks, and the aim of the exercise was to set the cars up with minimal downforce for the highest speed down Monza's long straights, as well as finding maximum grip and traction through the chicanes

With the recent European Grand Prix in Valencia the main talking point in the sport at the time, all ten teams went about their business largely unnoticed by the mainstream media.

Nick Heidfeld set the fastest overall time during the test, with the German taking his BMW Sauber round in an impressive 1:22.621, set on the second day. Nico Rosberg posted the second fastest time (also on the second day) - a 1:22.879 in his Williams-Toyota. Lewis Hamilton was third for McLaren with 1:22.967.

The second day of the test was clearly the one to go for quick laptimes. On the first day the majority of running was spent rubbering-in the track surface, and on the final day a steep rise in temperature meant the track condition wasn't ideal for qualifying-style single lap runs. Lewis Hamilton's 1:22.967 was therefore significant as it was set on the final day.

With testing behind them, the teams should have a good baseline set-up for the circuit in dry conditions.

Tyres07:50 Bridgestone have selected their hardest pair of tyre options, the Medium and Hard compounds, for this year's Italian Grand Prix. Their choice is one step harder than last season in a move to combat blistering of the tyres under the demands of the high-speed corners and the scramble for traction out of the slow chicanes.

Temperature has played a vital role in the balance of power this year and cool conditions could once again play in to the hands of McLaren, whose challenger is known to be more aggressive on the Bridgestone rubber. Wet weather is also set to play a significant part in proceedings.

Lewis Hamilton's dramatic pursuit of Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages of the Belgian Grand Prix demonstrated a pace advantage from the MP4-23 when battling with the Ferrari in cold and drizzly conditions - on exactly the same hard tyres that will be available this weekend.

McLaren's confidence will also be bouyed by a one-two finish last year, aided by their impressive agility over the kerbs.

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said: "Monza for us is not really the ideal track also because we are expecting not really high temperatures, so the only thing we can do is really to try to work very very hard, because we know that McLaren is very very strong above all in Monza."

The Ferrari team have clearly been working very hard and, bouyed by home support and a particularly potent engine package, are sure to take the fight to McLaren in another closely-fought weekend of racing.

Full details of the tyre allocation, along with the status of each driver's multi-race engine and gearbox, can be viewed by clicking the tabs on the Infobox in the right column of this page.

07:55 There are just five minutes to go before the action gets underway in Monza.

0 min: The practice session is underway.

1 min: As mentioned earlier, the forecast for the day is for the weather to deteriorate, so the teams will be looking for some early running, despite the track being damp in places.

2 min: Giancarlo Fisichella is leading the cars on their installation laps and he returns to the pits for the Force India team to check over the car.

3 min: Overnight rain has left the track damp in places with the area around the Ascari chicane being particularly tricky at the moment.

5 min: Jesnon Button has continued on from his installation lap, with intermediate tyres on the Honda.

5 min: Felipe Massa is getting ready, putting his earplugs in already. This is early by Ferrari standards for a Friday morning session, but understandable given the current weather.

6 min: Lewis Hamilton has joined the circuit for his first lap of the weekend.

Button pits his Honda, choosing not to set a time at this stage.

9 min: The Force India teammates Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella have come out onto the circuit for the second time, with the first runs from them expected now.

Sutil is on the intermediate tyre as both of them start a timed lap.

10 min: Giancarlo Fisichella brakes late for the Roggia chicane and runs wide, over the extra green tarmac area and the speed bumps. He continues.

11 min: Intermediate tyres are being favoured for running at the moment, despite the track being dry in most places. The most significant moisture is under the trees on the approach to the Ascari chicane

The drivers are limited to one set of each type of wet tyre today so are will be keen to save their rubber in case the expected rain does fall later.

11 min: Adrian Sutil posts the first laptime of the weekend - 1:37.402. Fisichella is slightly slower with 1:37.549.

11 min: Official weather forecast: Rain in 9 minutes.

13 min: Adrian Sutil pits after one timed lap, but his teammate Giancarlo Fisichella continues on for a second timed lap and moves ahead of his teammate with 1:35.779.

13 min: Adrian Sutil pits his Force India and tells the team on the radio his intermediate tyres are running too hot in the dry conditions.

13 min: Rubens Barrichello joins the racetrack for a second time in the Honda.

15 min: Barrichello crosses the line and starts a timed lap - his first of the day.

16 min: The Williams team are planning a dry tyre run for Nico Rosberg, telling him: "It could be the only time to go dry today."

17 min: Barrichello is currently the only driver on the circuit and is on intermediate tyres. He completes that lap and it is a 1:34.374 to go fastest ahead of the two Force Indias.

18 min: The weather is of concern throughout the pit lane. Nick Heidfeld is informed that the incoming shower is expected in five to ten minutes and could be heavy.

19 min: Adrian Sutil comes out for the third time this morning.

Barrichello reduces the benchmark time down to 1:33.428.

20 min: To show you what the teams are talking about as they discuss the incoming rain with their drivers, look at the rainfall radar.

The large shower of the two that is further west, moving towards Monza, is the one that the race engineers are discussing.

22 min: The Toro Rosso of Sebastien Bourdais is one of the first men to try a dry tyre. He has the harder Bridgestone compound on his car.

23 min: Adrian Sutil runs wide on his first timed lap on his latest run. The German runs over the speedbumps at the Roggia chicane but continues with no damage to the car. He improves to 1:33.481 and pits at the end of the following lap.

25 min: Kazuki Nakajima has had an off at the Ascari chicane. The Williams spun wildly as his dry tyres lost grip after running on the wet approach to the chicane.

Sebastian Vettel has also been off at the same place.

26 min: Nakajima has brought back the Williams to the pits and his car is covered in dust from his moment in the Ascari gravel.

27 min: Rubens Barrichello is quickest so far in this first practice session with a time of 1:33.428. Adrian Sutil is second in the Force India with his teammate Giancarlo Fisichella third.

Sebastien Bourdais is fourth in the Toro Rosso with his teammate Sebastian Vettel fifth so far.

Only five drivers have set a time so far, and the Ferrari drivers have yet to come out onto the track.

28 min: Rain is falling at Monza.

28 min: Adrian Sutil is continuing round and just as the rain begins to fall he goes quickest with a 1:32.842.

30 min: The German went to the top of the standings with the aid of the softer dry tyre with the white stripe on his car.

Sutil then runs wide on the following lap at the Ascari chicane. He continues without damage.

30 min: This developing shower is likely to halt running for a time while the teams wait to see how wet the track becomes.

32 min: Giancarlo Fisichella is the only driver on the circuit. The Italian pits this time and as the umbrellas go up all round the circuit the track is empty.

33 min: The rain shower continues to hit the circuit. It is fairly light in nature at the moment but is already making the track surface damp.

34 min: Kazuki Nakajima has seen enough of the radar on the pitwall, and walks back into the Williams garage.

Everyone in the pitlane will keep their eyes on conditions.

35 min: The air temperature is only 22c this morning, with the lack of sunshine holding the track temperature at a chilly 19c.

36 min: Jenson Button leaves the pitlane, practicing a start as he does so. The Briton has intermediate tyres bolted on to his Honda.

38 min: A heavy shower is now hitting the circuit, just as Button begins a lap on intermediate tyres.

40 min: Button eases the Honda around a lap, with the track conditions deteriorating all the time.

He pits the car without completing the lap.

41 min: Sebastien Bourdais heads out. He is trying a lap on the extreme wet tyres.

43 min: Bourdais crosses the start-finish line and begins a timed lap in the Toro Rosso.

The track surface is lightly wet but progressively getting wetter by the minute.

45 min: The shower continues to wet the Monza circuit and the area around the pits is particularly soggy at the moment.

There is a huge plume of spray from the Toro Rosso of Bourdais as he flashes across the line in a time of 1:42.888.

45 min: Bourdais completes the lap and posts a 1:42.888, but in continuing on for another lap, he locks up on entry to the first chicane and takes to the escape road.

He continues across the access road and rejoins the circuit.

46 min: BMW tell Nick Heidfeld that the rain is expected to last for the next half hour, keeping the track wet throughout the remainder of the session.

47 min: Jarno Trulli moves up to fifth quickest with a lap of 1:43.561 on the extreme wet tyre.

47 min: As some of the drivers come out to see what their cars can do in the wet conditions, Lewis Hamilton is sitting in his McLaren in the garage, but looking unlikely to come out anytime soon.

Hamilton has his overalls rolled down to his waist, checking over the cockpit as he chats with his race engineer Phil Prew.

48 min: Down at Ferrari, Felipe Massa is sitting on the tool trolleys at the back of the garage, looking pretty unconcerned about the whole situation as the rain continues.

49 min: Sebastien Bourdais continues to lap and has improved his time to a 1:37.658.

Timo Glock in the Toyota has taken fifth from his teammate with a 1:39.873.

50 min: Jenson Button has put a time on the board with a 1:40.236 to take seventh.

50 min: Timo Glock continues round, and has the rear end of his Toyota step out as he gets his left rear wheel on the exit kerb at the second Lesmo corner. Timo controls the car and continues on this current run of laps.

52 min: Nico Rosberg is heading out on extreme wet tyres.

The young German was keen to use the intermediate tyres but heeded the advice of his race engineer to take the heavily-treaded tyres out on to the wet circuit.

53 min: As the drivers get to grips with the current conditions, in the pitlane the mechanics still have work to do.

One job that will need constant attention is sweeping surface water away from the pitbox, where the cars would stop when they come in for pitstops during the race.

54 min: Renault drivers Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet have both joined the racetrack.

They cross the start-finish line and begin timed laps.

57 min: Rosberg completes lap in his Williams, clocking a 1:41.104.

Rubens Barrichello is currently the fastest man on the circuit, clocking a 1:37.455 on the previous tour before pitting the Honda.

57 min: Nelson Piquet has spun entering the first chicane at low speed. The Brazilian instantly jams on the brakes and comes to a halt without reaching the grass or access road.

He continues, and has posted the tenth fastest time with 1:47.607. Piquet is also using the extreme wet tyre.

57 min: Kimi Raikkonen is heading out for his first lap of the weekend in the Ferrari.

58 min: Nelson Piquet improves his time on the following lap, down to 1:41.438. He remains tenth.

59 min: The miserable conditions continue at the circuit with the radar showing more rain to come in the next few minutes.

60 min: With just under 30 minutes remaining in the first practice session, Adrian Sutil is fastest with a time of 1:32.842, set earlier in the damp conditions. Rubens Barrichello is second with Giancarlo Fisichella third, Sebastien Bourdais fourth, and Toyota duo Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock fifth and sixth.

61 min: Felipe Massa has joined teammate Raikkonen on track.

Kimi's first lap on the extreme wet tyre is a 1:42.018, putting him 11th in the order.

62 min: Nico Rosberg, feeling out the conditions in the Williams, sets an impressive 1:36.900 to move up to fourth overall.

63 min: The rain is easing for the moment as the drivers continue to get used to the wet conditions. Nearby, a large thunder cloud is passing and there are flashes of lightning around.

The lighting level is getting darker by the minute as the session continues.

63 min: Felipe Massa's first attempt at a timed lap is a 1:40.233.

65 min: Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are continuing their runs on extreme wet tyres, but both have recently taken a trip across the extra tarmac at the Roggia chicane. They continued without problem and both are still circulating.

66 min: Kimi Raikkonen has improved his time to a 1:37.392, eighth fastest, before pitting the Ferrari.

67 min: Adrian Sutil spins at the Roggia chicane. It is another harmless low-speed pirouette and the German rejoins the racetrack.

He remains top of the timesheet with just under 23 minutes to go and continues on this run.

67 min: Timo Glock sets an improved time of 1:36.800 as he continues to get a feel of the wet conditions.

69 min: Felipe Massa is not particularly happy with his Ferrari at this stage and has been off for a tour of the escape road at both the first and second chicanes en route back to the pits.

He is slowest of all drivers to set a time so far.

70 min: Conditions are incredibly gloomy at Monza as the rain comes down heavily once again.

71 min: Sebastian Vettel screams in to the Parabolica to find a cloud burst is hitting the circuit.

72 min: Several drivers have yet to set a laptime today.

Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Heikki Kovalainen, Robert Kubica, Kazuki Nakajima and Nick Heidfeld have yet to go out to test the conditions.

72 min: The rain is now severe and it is very dark. Conditions are almost impossible currently.

73 min: The circuit is now totally soaked.

73 min: Sebastian Vettel is the last of the drivers out on track, and he safely makes it back into the pitlane.

76 min: The major rain fall continues in Monza. The track is completely awash and further running in the final minutes is very unlikely.

77 min: The fans in the grandstands are getting completely soaked by the torrential rain fall.

These weather conditions are expected throughout the weekend.

80 min: The view along the main straight is completely obscured by the enormous rainfall that continues at Monza.

81 min: The storm drains in the pit lane are struggling to cope with the volume of water that is flowing from the sky.

The McLaren team are desperately attempting to keep the torrent of water from flowing in to the garage.

83 min: The drivers sit casually at the back of the garages with no prospect of further running this morning in the severe conditions.

85 min: Efforts continue to combat the flow of water in to the pit garages.

The heavy rain continues with the entire race track resembling a river.

85 min: The session has been stopped.

88 min: The race director has taken the sensible decision to draw this bizzare session of practice to an early conclusion.

Adrain Sutil for Force India set the fastest time of 1:32.842 in the near-dry conditions at the start of the period.

09:33 The rain has eased slightly in recent minutes but the track remains submerged under a huge amount of water.

09:34 Fourteen drivers set a laptime in a visually amazing first session, curtailed by the extreme rain.

Adrian Sutil was fastest among them, setting a 1:32.842. Rubens Barrichello was second, with Fisichella third, Glock fourth, Rosberg fifth and Fernando Alonso in sixth position.

09:36 Nick Heidfeld, Kazuki Nakajima, Robert Kubica, Heikki Kovalainen, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton did not set a time during the session.

09:37 Matt Beer has the round up on a disrupted session of practice:

Sutil quickest in very wet first practice

09:46 The rain continues to fall on the circuit as this thunderstorm passes over, and is about to slide away east.

Towards the end of the session, when the rain was at its heaviest, the scenes were amazing. The medical car set out for a lap round the circuit and the level of standing water at the Roggia chicane could only be described as very deep.

The radar shows that this storm will end soon, with no further showers expected, at least for the next hour or so.

Looking a little further afield, the satellite images back this up, showing a clear break in the weather, but as you can see another large area of rain is developing just off the French Riviera. This is the predicted rain for this afternoon that we have mentioned on the weather reporting page. It will continue to move east, reaching Monza later.

10:03 The GP2 cars are due on track for a practice session but officials have delayed the start of the session to clear some water from the track.

The autosport.com team in the pits tell us that conditions are brightening up but some rain continues to fall as the thunderstorm slowly moves away from the track.

10:08 A track inspection is scheduled for quarter past the hour, before the GP2 cars will be allowed to take to the circuit.

Tractors are currently on circuit, being used to clear water from the track.

10:27 News is reaching us from the autosport.com team at Monza that there will be a further fifteen minute delay to GP2 proceedings, as attempts are continuing to clear excess water away from the circuit.

10:33 In other news, the Red Bull team have elected to make a precautionary change on Mark Webber's engine when the multi-race components are installed on the car tomorrow.

Red Bull change Webber's engine

The the status of each driver's multi-race engine and gearbox can be viewed by clicking the Parts tab on the Infobox in the right column of this page.

10:53 Rain continues to fall at Monza, hampering the clean-up and removal of excess water on the circuit.

One aspect to consider in the break between sessions is that the drainage around the track may not have been able to cope with the sudden torrent of water that came hosing down in such a short space of time. For example, if any water wasn't able to drain away, then it could wash soil and mud from the grass areas around the circuit on to the racetrack, necessitating a larger clean-up as the officials and track workers attempt to get the track ready for action again.

There is a lot for the organisers to consider and check when an unexpected event such as this morning's thunderstorm occurs.

For those who have not seen the pictures from the morning, the level of rain was akin to what we saw in the early laps of the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in 2007, but the storm continued for a good bit longer. Visually it was astounding at its peak.

11:06 The GP2 practice session is finally underway at a soggy Monza circuit. Practice has been shortened to 25 minutes, to allow enough time following the session to make sure the track is ready for the second Formula One practice session, later this afternoon.

Rain at Monza11:20 Rain is not often experienced when Formula One comes to the Royal Park of Monza every September. Indeed, there are very few instances of inclement weather affecting Grand Prix weekends at Monza over the last 35 years.

The main reason for the Italian Grand Prix often running in pleasant weather conditions is the close proximity of the Alps. Advancing areas of rain and swathes of cloud are stalled by the presence of the mountains, and usually fizzle out, sheltering Italy.

On occasions, however, the clouds have made it over the mountains, in to the Lombardia region. In those rare instances where rain has fallen on the Autodromo Natzionale di Monza, there have been stories to be told.

1976: Rain fell on Sunday morning, but the track was almost dry by the time of the race start. A few damp patches remained during the early laps of the event. Ronnie Peterson won the race ahead of Clay Regazzoni and Jacques Laffite – the three of them covered by just three seconds. It is poignant that this week marks the 30th anniversary of the great Swede's passing, although the race 32 years ago is more remembered for a fuel saga involving James Hunt's McLaren.

1981: The dominant Renaults led away in the early stages of the 1981 race, but on the 12th lap a passing shower clipped the circuit, affecting the Parabolica for several minutes. Remarkably the rain fell nowhere else on the track, but a 200 metre stretch of the circuit was wet enough to cause light spray. With the rest of the circuit dry, action developed quickly.

Slim Borgudd in the ATS was the first to find out how tricky conditions were and he spun out of the race. Jacques Laffite was next. Having negotiated the wet portion of track, the Frenchman then slid off the road at the first chicane. Rene Arnoux spun away his second place and was joined instantly by Derek Daly, who was storming up through the field at the time. Daly managed to get going again but Eddie Cheever wasn't so lucky, and the America joined Arnoux and Borgudd in the kitty litter.

On track, the position changes during those few laps when it rained were extraordinary. Carlos Reutemann had been running third, close behind Williams teammate Alan Jones, but lost all confidence in the wet portion of the race. The Argentine slid down the field to eighth, regaining composure when the track dried out. While the old hand was taking things cautiously, the shower enabled fearless young guns such as Bruno Giacomelli and Patrick Tambay to shine. Giacomelli leapt up the ranks from seventh to third, but behind him Tambay, who was twelfth before the shower, passed everyone in sight to emerge fourth just a handful of laps later. All this from one corner on the circuit where it had rained in just five laps.

Once the track dried out, the drivers began to push harder again. John Watson was lying seventh in his McLaren MP4 but ran wide exiting the second Lesmo curve. He spun backwards and crashed rearwards spectacularly into the armco barriers, with the engine and gearbox whizzing across the circuit. The Ulsterman was completely unharmed, safely enclosed in John Barnard's revolutionary new carbon fibre monocoque.

1993: Friday qualifying started with a damp and drying racetrack, following morning showers. No cars came out for almost 15 minutes, but by the time they did, the track was dry. It was no surprise that Alain Prost claimed provisional pole position.

1998: After 1981, it would be almost two decades before any serious rain then fell on a Formula One weekend at Monza. In 1998, the Friday morning practice was dry and overcast, but in the afternoon showers occurred, with the track soaked by the end of the two hours of practice. That was small fry compared to Saturday morning, however, when a spectacular rainstorm blew in and ruined the final practice session. Qualifying took place on a damp and drying racetrack, in the days when you were permitted 12 laps of the circuit to set a time. Needless to say nothing happened for almost half-an-hour as everyone waited for the track to dry. Those were the days ...

2004: The most recent instance of rain at an Italian Grand Prix weekend came four years ago. On race morning showers soaked the circuit, affecting the supporting Porsche Supercup race and the pre-race Formula One drivers' parade. The rain stopped soon afterwards, and by the time the race started it was damp at worst. Rubens Barrichello surged into a large lead of almost six seconds in the opening couple of laps. The Ferrari driver had chosen to start on intermediate tyres. The track was ready for dry tyres on just the third lap of the race and Barrichello, who had worn his intermediates already, was soon passed for the lead by Fernando Alonso on dry tyres.

Moving on to the present day and 2008 will certainly be remembered for the spectacular thunderstorm witnessed this morning. The conditions at the end of first practice were some of the wettest ever seen with a Formula One weekend in progress. With forecasts predicting further rain and showers throughout the weekend, one can only wonder at the impact rain will have this year in Monza.

11:40 Weatherwise, conditions are beginning to improve with the rain having stopped, allowing the track to continue drying out.

The satellite picture shows vividly the Monza storm that is moving away from the area in northern Italy. Behind this we have a spell of much brighter weather coming for a time.

The second practice session is likely to escape further showers, as it stands currently, unless another sudden storm develops in the clear space that lies between the two active areas of rain.

In the French Riviera, the next area of concern is moving east towards the Italian border. This large area of cloud and rain is set to move in once the practice session is completed.

11:54 Nelson Piquet is sitting the team gallery section of the Renault garage, looking positively bored as he waits for the session to commence.

11:54 Track conditions are set to improve throughout the upcoming session as the track dries out.

With little meaningful running during the morning session, at some point the teams will elect to check out the conditions, given they have no great concerns over crash damage this afternoon.

11:55 On track, the tractors are out again with blowers attached at the Roggia chicane, as they continue trying to dry out the circuit ahead of the practice session.

11:57 The weather has improved dramatically as the morning thunderstorm moved away from the track. The majority of the water has cleared away from the circuit and practice will start with damp but drying conditions.

11:57 Lewis Hamilton sits in his McLaren Mercedes, getting ready for what will be a busy 90 minutes of practice.

11:58 Official weather forecast: No rain expected in the next 20 minutes.

5 min: Breaking News: Ferarri have extended Kimi Raikkonen's contract at the Italian team.

Ferrari extend Raikkonen's contract

0 min: The practice session is underway.

0 min: Sebastian Vettel is talking to his race engineer on the Toro Rosso team radio. He plans to go out on intermediate tyres, but may only do a few laps on them if it looks like he will destroy the tyres on the drying surface, incase there is further rain later.

0 min: Heikki Kovalainen leads the cars out of the pit lane.

1 min: Kovalainen has the intermediate tyre on his McLaren, which is ideal for these drying conditions.

2 min: At Red Bull Mark Webber is informed by his race engineer that there is possibly some oil down at the Ascari chicane.

3 min: Heikki Kovalainen has continued on from his opening lap and looks like being the first man to set a time.

3 min: Numerous cars have taken to the circuit very quickly in the opening moments of the session. Ten drivers are out there circulating and the first flying laps are already in progress.

4 min: Kovalainen sets the first benchmark time at 1:37.866, despite an off-track moment over the kerbs at the Roggia chicane.

5 min: Sebastian Vettel is quicker than Kovalainen and goes P1 with a 1:36.705.

5 min: Nico Rosberg now takes a turn at the top, setting a 1:36.296.

Times will quickly tumble as the track continues to dry.

6 min: Kimi Raikkonen joins the race track as more cars head out to get a feel for the damp conditions.

7 min: Seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher is with the Ferrari team this weekend and he is monitoring the progress of Raikkonen and Massa.

8 min: Heikki Kovalainen and Sebastien Bourdais are trading times to be the fastest man at the moment.

9 min: Sebastian Vettel is quick on the circuit and the German posts the quickest first sector time of all on his latest lap. He's running on the intermediate tyre and he crosses the line to move into second place with 1:34.327.

10 min: Times continue to tumble as a drying line continues to form on the track.

11 min: Kimi Raikkonen, newly confirmed at the Ferrari team until 2010, jumps to the top of the order with a 1:33.774.

11 min: Vettel continues for another lap but cannot slow down sufficiently for the Roggia chicane. He goes straight on and continues.

Moments ago Jenson Button did the same thing on his first run of the afternoon.

14 min: With almost 15 minutes gone in this afternoon practice session, Kimi Raikkonen leads the way with a lap of 1:33.010 in the drying conditions, ahead of Bourdais, Vettel, Kovalainen and Nick Heidfeld.

14 min: Raikkonen improves his time again, making it 1:33.010 as the lap to beat.

The sunshine continues to dry the circuit rapidly on the straights, although some areas at the chicanes and under the trees do remain wet at the moment.

15 min: Sebastian Vettel continues to lap in the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso and is up to second quickest overall as Raikkonen smashes the benchmark time with a 1:32.231.

16 min: Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel are both replayed having an off at the Roggia chicane, using the ample run-off as an escape.

Massa follows that up with a detour around the bollards at the first chicane.

17 min: Rubens Barrichello comes out onto the racetrack in the Honda. His first timed lap is a 1:36.812. Using the intermediate tyres, he follows that up with 1:34.685 to move up the order to seventh.

Meantime his teammate Jenson Button is exploring the limits, running wide at the first chicane and taking a route over the speedbumps, before rejoining the prepared surface.

18 min: Lewis Hamilton is among a pack of eight cars that have decided to sit out this drying phase of the session, waiting for better track conditions.

19 min: Felipe Massa improves to third quickest in 1:33.130 and is the only man on track at the moment.

21 min: The track continues to dry rapidly in the sunshine. As Massa pits the Ferrari, all the cars are now in the garages and we are set for a wait before they emerge on dry tyres.

22 min: Sebastien Bourdais comes out onto the racetrack and is the first driver to risk the track conditions on dry tyres. He is out there with the harder tyre bolted on to the Toro Rosso.

23 min: In the first sector of the lap the Frenchman is struggling with a lack of grip. He takes things cautiously but completes the outlap and starts a timed lap of this 3.6 mile circuit.

24 min: Bourdais continues to circulate on his hard dry tyres but is slower than the current benchmark set by Kimi Raikkonen, suggesting that any crossover time from wet to dry tyres is lower than the current 1:32.231.

25 min: Nico Rosberg has also joined the track to check out the slippery surface but he remains on the intermediate tyres.

25 min: Bourdais is around one second off the pace in each sector of the lap. This information is gold for the rest of the teams in the pitlane who will be eagerly monitoring Bourdais' progress.

28 min: Bourdais stays out there as his tyres begin to generate heat. His last full lap was timed at 1:37.498, 5.2 seconds shy of the current benchmark set by Raikkonen on intermediates.

Bourdais is slowly getting closer, last lap 1:35.489.

29 min: Sebastien stays out and now the change is beginning to happen. He's much quicker on this lap around, setting the fastest sector time of all in the first sector of the lap.

The Frenchman loses time however in the final sector and completes the lap 1.3 seconds away from the target time.

30 min: Lewis Hamilton is sitting on the tool chest at the back of the McLaren garage, sharing a joke with his mechanics and engineers.

He is clearly in no hurry to go out until the track is completely dry.

One hour remains in Friday's running at the Italian Grand Prix.

31 min: Bourdais comes through the second section of the circuit eight tenths of a second inside the benchmark time. He continues to edge closer to Raikkonen's 1:32.231.

The Parabolica is still damp and again he loses time in the final section of the circuit.

Bourdais goes second with 1:32.821.

32 min: As the teams see Bourdais staying on the road, and his ever-improving lap time, they begin a move to send out their drivers for some laps.

33 min: Bourdais finally takes the fastest time after six timed laps - 1:32.082 and this will send the drivers scurrying out onto the circuit as it is now suitable for dry tyre running.

33 min: Rubens Barrichello and Fernando Alonso are two drivers in no hurry to go out and are stood chatting with team members.

35 min: The track remains damp and tricky off the racing line so there is certainly potential for a mishap as the field heads out to sample the conditions.

36 min: Bourdais comes back into the pits after that early run on the dry tyres. His teammate Sebastian Vettel is on track now and is immediately quick.

Two fastest sector times of all the drivers will see Vettel go to the top of the pile on this lap ... and he does with a 1:30.638. He is also using the harder tyre for this run.

39 min: Mark Webber goes second to Vettel in the Red Bull RB4, but as he continues on for another attempt, he locks up his hard tyres and takes to the escape road.

Jenson Button now shoots to the top with 1:29.716 as the serious dry running begins in earnest.

39 min: Sebastien Bourdais is back at the Toro Rosso garage and is relaying his experiences of the track conditions to his team.

He reports the circuit is still damp in places, particularly at the Ascari chicane, first Lesmo and first chicane. He also mentions a stripe of water at the Parabolica.

40 min: Felipe Massa is making his way on to the circuit with the harder dry tyre on his Ferrari.

40 min: The times at the top of the order are changing quickly, as we see Nico Rosberg go fastest with 1:29.687. He is immediately topped by Vettel who is still out there on a reasonably long run. The German posts a 1:28.409.

40 min: Lewis Hamilton has also joined the track for a few laps on the harder tyre.

42 min: Hamilton clocks a 1:31.182 on his first timed lap of the day to go eighth.

42 min: Vettel lowers the bar once again and his time is 1:27.607. Jenson Button is second, with Nico Rosberg third and Nelson Piquet fourth.

But all that is about to change as the top teams send their drivers out.

42 min: Massa's latest effort is a 1:29.474 to take fifth.

43 min: Fifteen drivers are out on track going through their various programmes of work, involving tyre comparisons, running with lower and higher fuel loads, and most importantly perfecting their dry weather set-ups.

44 min: Sebastian Vettel has returned to the pits following that lengthy run that saw him go to the top of the current classification.

44 min: Lewis Hamilton moves up to second quickest as he gets used to the conditions in his McLaren.

He is gunning for Vettel's benchmark on this latest lap.

45 min: Hamilton tops the order with a 1:26.621 on the harder dry tyre.

46 min: Lewis continues to lap strongly and chops the benchmark time down to a 1:25.908, almost three quarters of a second better than his last lap.

47 min: Adrian Sutil and Jarno Trulli are pushing the boundaries as they go for quick laps around the track. Both leave their braking late and take to the speedbumps at the first chicane.

Both of them have stayed out and choose to complete their laps. Trulli improves to 13th so far, with Sutil vaulting up to sixth place.

47 min: Felipe Massa slots in second with a 1:26.984, over a second down on Hamilton.

Finns Heikki Kovalainen and Kimi Raikkonen are now up to third and fourth quickest.

48 min: Robert Kubica highlights that BMW may be a force this weekend as the Pole moves up to second with a 1:26.489.

48 min: Adrian Sutil is set for another improvement on this latest lap. He moves up a place to fifth with 1:26.842.

50 min: Kimi Raikkonen, on the harder tyre, tops the session with a 1:25.836.

50 min: Fernando Alonso straightlines the Roggia chicane whilst he pushes on the harder tyre. The Spaniard moves up from 13th to 7th with a time of 1:26.727.

52 min: Raikkonen and Massa trade the fastest times as the track conditions continue to improve.

Kimi's new best is a 1:25.566.

53 min: Adrian Sutil is still out on his first run. He has retaken fifth place with another improvement in laptime. He is now down to 1:26.504 which is just under a second away from the Ferraris.

His Force India teammate Giancarlo Fisichella backs up Sutil's strong showing by leaping up to eighth with 1:26.789.

53 min: Sutil now pits at the end of a seven lap run on the harder tyre.

53 min: Felipe Massa is the next man to top the timesheets with a 1:25.390 as he takes it away from Robert Kubica.

54 min: Robert Kubica tops the standings once again as he blasts round to a 1:25.101.

55 min: Earlier in the session Sebastien Bourdais took the fastest time, the Frenchman being the first to try the dry tyres on the damp racetrack.

Some minutes later and he is down in 13th position. However he is back out on track again following a time in the garage. His teammate Sebastian Vettel has joined him on the track.

57 min: Kubica continues to press on and this time he gets it wrong at the first chicane. He upset the balance of the car by clipping the inside kerb and tipped the BMW in to a spin.

There was no damage and he continues.

58 min: Bourdais moves up to seventh place from 13th with his latest lap - a 1:26.381.

Vettel comes through and beats his teammate to the tune of two tenths of a second.

Bourdais flashes across the line and jumps back ahead of Vettel.

The Toro Rosso boys are now sixth and seventh, showing the performance that many expected from the team this weekend, with their wickedly powerful Ferrari engines.

59 min: Heikki Kovalainen is back on track with hard tyres on his McLaren. Teammate Hamilton is also heading out for a run.

59 min: The Toro Rosso duo continue to trade times and now Vettel jumps up to second place overall with a time of 1:25.389.

59 min: Bourdais pits, ending an entertaining battle as they both moved up the classification.

60 min: Nick Heidfeld is fifth in the order at the moment, with Heikki Kovalainen slotting in sixth after his first flying lap of the run.

60 min: Sebastian Vettel also pits, with both Toro Rosso entries now inside the top ten.

62 min: Lewis Hamilton has the softer tyre on his McLaren and clocks a 1:25.412 to move up to fourth as he starts a further run of flying laps.

62 min: Adrian Sutil comes out onto the racetrack with the softer tyres on his Force India machine. He sets a 1:25.836 to move up to seventh position. He goes on for another lap, but loses some time in the second sector of the lap, resulting in no improvement at the end of his latest lap.

64 min: Session pacesetter Robert Kubica is the next man to try the softer rubber and he uses it to extend his advantage at the top to a 1:24.287.

64 min: Fernando Alonso is out again, using the softer tyre for this run.

It is noticable that the teams are having to condense their tyre comparisons to just a couple of runs on each type of tyre.

Fernando's pace is less than spectacular on this particular run, and he has dropped down the order to 11th place.

65 min: Kubica continues to set the pace with a further improvement to 1:23.931.

67 min: Nelson Piquet has spun the Renault and is stuck on the kerb at the first chicane ...

68 min: Adrian Sutil is pushing extremely hard in his Force India VMJ01. His pace has been impressive in the green track conditions, but of course the usual question remains as we all wonder how much fuel each car is carrying while they set their practice laps.

Sutil continues on and runs wide in Lesmo II, spinning but rejoining.

69 min: Nelson Piquet has brought out the yellow flags, following a spin at the first chicane.

71 min: Replays show that Piquet spun and ended up backwards on the kerb at the first chicane. He tried to resume but his Renault became beached on the bumps that are supposed to discourage the drivers from cutting the chicane.

He couldn't move the car, so had to switch off the engine.

73 min: A 1:25.464 has vaulted Jenson Button up the order from 19th to eighth. He had the softer tyre on his Honda.

74 min: Robert Kubica leads the pack after 74 minutes of the second practice session at Monza, with a laptime of 1:23.931. Nick Heidfeld makes it a BMW Sauber one-two, with the Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa third and fourth.

Sebastian Vettel is a stunning fifth for Toro Rosso, ahead of Lewis Hamilton in sixth place.

78 min: Lewis Hamilton is heading out for a late run in the McLaren.

78 min: Kazuki Nakajima has spent much of the session near the bottom of the timesheets in the Williams. The Japanese driver has just set two consecutive improvements, moving from 20th, to 17th, then most recently to 13th with his latest lap being a 1:25.631.

Kazuki brings the Williams into the pits at the end of that run, and final adjustments will be made ahead of the final run of the day.

79 min: Hamilton clocks an improved 1:24.579 on the softer tyre but he remains sixth.

81 min: Heikki Kovalainen also improves his time on the softer rubber with a 1:24.885 effort for ninth.

83 min: Hamilton shaves a fraction off his best time as he continues on the softer rubber. He moves up to fifth.

83 min: The Toyota team would appear to be struggling in the green track conditions, although with a lot of running by the drivers in the session, the rubber will be going down, increasing the level of available grip for the drivers as they move towards the final runs where some will push for a time on the softer tyres.

Timo Glock has just set his fastest lap of the session, but all that does is move him up from 18th to 17th place. His teammate Jarno Trulli is currently last in 20th position.

The team may be struggling to find grip in the improving track conditions, or perhaps they are testing with a high amount of fuel on board. With one stop strategies being an option at this circuit, testing with a heavy car would be nothing more than good investigation, as they continue to gather data and look at the various strategies that are on offer at this circuit.

84 min: Trulli moves up from 20th to 18th place with a time of 1:25.753. The Italian pits following that improvement.

84 min: Kimi Raikkonen is on track for his final run of the day.

85 min: Fernando Alonso is out and going for it on the softer tyre, but he backs off midway through the lap after setting a personal best first sector time.

85 min: Kimi Raikkonen storms to the top of the timesheet with a 1:23.861 with the softer tyres on his Ferrari.

86 min: Replays show that Alonso made a mistake in the second Lesmo, getting oversteer which he needed to correct. The lap was instantly lost, but he is on another quick lap now.

87 min: The cars are piling out of the pits for a busy conclusion to the session.

88 min: Fernando Alonso has stayed out there, but has failed to improve on his current 1:25.855 that places him 19th, with only his teammate Nelson Piquet behind him.

89 min: Lewis Hamilton continues to improve his time after a lengthy stint on the softer tyre. He remains fourth but is just over a tenth down on Raikkonen's benchmark time.

90 min: The session has ended. Cars that have already started a lap may complete it.

13:30 The final laps of the day are taking place around the circuit, with the Toyotas and Renaults at the foot of the table surprisingly.

13:32 Safety car boards and warning flags are being shown, and drivers have to select a safety car mode before returning to the pits.

This is a further test of standard ECU software, which could be introduced in a move to overhaul the safety car procedure.

13:33 Kimi Raikkonen ends the first day at Monza fastest in the Ferrari with a laptime of 1:23.861. Behind him come the BMW Sauber pair of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, with Lewis Hamilton in fourth.

Nico Rosberg ends the day a superb fifth for Williams, ahead of Felipe Massa in sixth and Heikki Kovalainen in seventh.

13:33 The cars return to the pits to wrap up a busy session of practice at Monza.

13:34 At the front the gaps in time are very small, with the top five covered by less than a quarter of a second.

13:36 Adrian Sutil has embarrassingly missed the pit entry in the Force India. He initially pulled up on the start finish straight, reporting his blunder over the radio, before being allowed to make another tour back to the pits.

13:40 The report and classification is now available for an overview of a busy session at Monza:

Raikkonen quickest in second practice

13:42 The weather has played a major role in proceedings today and the outlook for tomorrow looks particularly poor.

Check back with autosport.com Live later today for a full analysis of the prospects for final practice and qualifying.

Weather Forecasts and Reports

13:53 Friday at Monza produced two wildly different spectacles as the teams worked through three hours of practice.

This morning started with a damp circuit and some tentative running in tricky track conditions. Many drivers decided to wait for improving weather, which didn't arrive. Rather than improve, the heavens opened and Monza was drenched in a heavy downpour that brought a complete halt to any sensible activity on the circuit.

Gradually the thunderstorm moved away, enabling the track to dry out slowly during the break between sessions.

With 90 minutes available and most of it being run in the dry, the track was extremely busy during the second session of practice. Sebastien Bourdais was the first to go for dry tyres and his information from a six lap run will be invaluable to all the teams when they sit down later in the debrief and work out the potential strategies for the race.

Eventually the top teams came out onto the track, after a period of waiting, and everyone waited for the McLaren versus Ferrari battle. It didn't materialise. Kimi Raikkonen topped the session for Ferrari but it was BMW Sauber who offered the closest challenge, with Robert Kubica second and resurgent Nick Heidfeld in third. Lewis Hamilton placed fourth, with Felipe Massa sixtrh and Heikki Kovalainen in seventh.

Tonight, all four McLaren and Ferrari drivers will go to sleep wondering just where BMW are going to figure in all this - an extra complication as they strive to out-do eachother.

As you've seen, our attention will focus on the Saturday weather prospects, then tomorrow please join us again as we bring you coverage of the third practice session and the all-important qualifying hour as the story of the 2008 Italian Grand Prix continues.

  OVERVIEW PRACTICE TWO  
Session Length: 90 minutes
 View official live timing
  CURRENT WEATHER
Mainly sunny High Temp: 24°C / 75°F
Track: Dry
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Monday 08 Sep Start GMT
 Weather Forecasts and Reports 15:00
Friday 12 Sep
 Friday Practice 07:30
Saturday 13 Sep
 Final Practice and Qualifying 08:30
Sunday 14 Sep
 Raceday at Monza 08:00
  ABOUT
Emlyn Hughes and Geoff Creighton are autosport.com's live commentary team. The dynamic duo have developed an inimitable style and a reputation for fast, accurate and insightful commentary. With unrivaled access to events unfolding at the circuit, they bring you the very latest, as it happens.

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