Alonso still geared up

Title leader plays down mechanical glitches

By Mike Wise at Monza.   Last Updated: 08/09/12 8:33am

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Fernando Alonso has played down the gremlins which ended his participation in both of Friday's opening practice sessions for the Italian Grand Prix.

Ferrari's 'tifosi' fans cheered regardless when Alonso, who currently leads the World Championship, pulled his car off the track at the first chicane during the morning session after it developed an engine problem.

Mechanics worked throughout lunch to change the V8 but the Spaniard's running was again cut short during the afternoon when he suffered a gearbox failure.

A new unit will also have to be fitted ahead of third practice on Saturday, although Alonso will not suffer a grid penalty.

Ferrari Technical Director Pat Fry said the Scuderia's day had been "messy", but of more concern to their star driver was the pace shown by McLaren.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished one-two in the timesheets in FP2, with McLaren also showing strongly on long runs. But Ferrari set promising times too, with Alonso and team-mate Felipe Massa ending the day third and fourth fastest.

"I think it was just a little bit of a strange Friday because of the mechanical failures but sometimes we push some parts to the limit," Alonso said.

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"I think it's not any problem at all. What we need to concentrate on is the performance for tomorrow - I think McLaren looked very strong again today so we need to find something extra for tomorrow. And then we'll see.

"I think it will be a very interesting weekend. The weather should be stable all three days so that should help us to be very precise and to maximise the performance of the cars. So it will be a good test for us, where we are really tomorrow in terms of performance."

Alonso missed out particularly during the afternoon, completing just 17 laps. In contrast, Massa managed more laps than anyone - 43 - with the double World Champion able to make use of information from his team-mate's car.

"It was extremely important today the work from Felipe and I think when you have a session you have to stop for any reason you need to trust your team-mate and the information from the other car," Alonso said.

"So thanks to Felipe today, we will not miss any of the laps that we were not able to do."

Alonso also took encouragement from being able to arrive at a good set-up during his limited time on track.

"It's good. More than the performance, it's just the balance of the car, that sometimes we arrive on Friday and we need to change to car completely for FP2 and then completely again for FP3 and we are a little bit in the middle of making decisions in the last minute before qualy," he added.

"So far in FP1 and FP2, we've found a car that was consistent to drive, easy to drive. We see both Ferraris in the top six or seven all the time, which is not always like that.

"Sometimes if something happens on a Friday, it will never happen anymore on Saturday and Sunday. So we will make sure that what happened today will not happen anymore."

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