Kimi Raikkonen (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro) set the marker on the opening day of running for the Italian Grand Prix by using Bridgestone’s medium compound Potenza tyre to set Friday’s fastest lap time at the 5.79km Monza race track for the fourteenth round of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship. Raikkonen set his time – a 1min 23.861secs – in the afternoon 90 minute practice session. He was less than a tenth faster than the next driver, Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber F1 Team). Kubica’s team- mate, Nick Heidfeld, went third fastest in this session. In a contrast to the morning, the afternoon was dry, although the circuit was damp from the earlier rainfall. In the morning the circuit started damp and it rained with increasing ferocity during the session. Force India driver Adrian Sutil went fastest with a time of 1min 32.842secs, set using the medium compound dry tyre. He was almost six tenths faster than Honda F1 Racing Team driver Rubens Barrichello. Sutil’s team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella went third fastest. Whilst the medium compound Bridgestone Potenza F1 tyre was used in Monza last season, it’s the first time the hard compound has been used here at a race weekend as the tyre allocation is a step harder with the hard and medium here this season, compared with the medium and soft last year. Teams have data from the recent test in Monza to help them with their strategy choices, whilst the wet morning session enabled competitors to evaluate the wet and extreme wet tyres. Today’s fastest lap time was almost a second and a half slower than the best Friday time set last year, a 1min 22.386secs, set by Fernando Alonso (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes). Hirohide Hamashima – Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development, said: “Today was definitely a game of two halves. In the morning, conditions were wet and we saw a limited amount of running. Adrian Sutil did very well to go fastest using the medium compound tyre before the circuit became too wet. Drivers who ran in the morning session were able to get useful data from the wet and extreme wet tyres and this could help them if we see a wet race. In the afternoon conditions were far better, although we were some way off a fully dry circuit. This weekend the weather will be key and teams will spend a lot of time looking at the sky before deciding their tyre strategies.” Stats of the Day Total amount of laps completed by all drivers: 752 laps Average number of laps per driver: 38 laps Most laps by a driver: 59 – Bourdais Fastest lap: 1min 23.861secs – (FP2) Compounds used: Hard / Medium / Wet / Extreme Wet Qualifying in 2007 Fernando Alonso (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) set the fastest lap time in qualifying last season, setting a 1min 21.997secs using the soft compound. His team-mate Lewis Hamilton qualified second and Felipe Massa (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro) third.