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Friday Practice Press Releases
Giancarlo Fisichella finished 11th to head the Honda-powered drivers in today's free practice session for the 73rd Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Jacques Villenueve and Takuma Sato finished in 12th and 14th places respectively while Olivier Panis recorded 15th position.

The 5.793km Autodromo Nazionale is located in the picturesque Parco di Monza north east of Milan and, because of the changes made to the Hockenheimring this season, Monza is now the only circuit where the cars reach the highest maximum speeds of the year, often greater than 350kph. Full of history and passion, the Italian Grand Prix marks the end of the European season and usually attracts a great crowd, most significantly the tifosi, who will be out in force to support Ferrari. The high-speed track requires very low downforce and offers potential overtaking opportunities, making for an exciting race.

Several sections of the track were damp at the start of morning free practice due to the overnight rain in Monza and conditions remained overcast (20 degrees) in the afternoon session, which was characterised by a series of spins as the majority of drivers struggled to find grip.

Giancarlo Fisichella completed 16 laps in the first session and a further 24 laps in the second, setting a best time of 1m24.629s and finishing in 11th place overall. Jacques Villeneuve covered a total of 35 laps of the Monza circuit, finishing in 12th position overall with a best time of 1m24.833s, an improvement of over a second on his best time of the first session.

Takuma Sato lost a bit of time at the end of the first session due to an electrical problem but the Japanese driver still managed to run 35 laps and finished in 14th position overall, setting a best time of 1m24.990s, improving on his initial time by almost a second. Olivier Panis completed 41 laps and set a best lap of 1m25.027s, putting him in 15th place overall.

Shuhei Nakamoto, Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development:
"All four Honda-powered drivers completed a good number of laps today – 151 between them – and it was quite a straightforward session. I'm happy that we ran reliably with no engine problems and we're optimistic for the race."

Giancarlo Fisichella (11th):
"We worked on a number of things today including different fuel loads for the race. At the moment we have some difficulty with tyres because they need three laps to get them working, so qualifying will be very tough. We will work a bit more on the set-up but for the moment the balance doesn't look too bad and the engine has been reliable. I think it may be difficult to be in the top ten."

Jacques Villeneuve (12th):
"We made some progress during the two sessions but we're not as competitive as we should be. Plus, we had a hydraulic leak and I lost time at the end of the morning session. Monza is a great track but we carry so little downforce here that it's hard to get the set-up right - tyre choice is always difficult because you're trying to find more grip without blistering the tyres. We got some good runs in though and tried some different things and in the end we managed to get the car quite well-balanced once we'd put some laps on the tyres. Obviously we have some work to do yet so we'll try to do what we can to improve the car for the race."

Takuma Sato (14th):
"We started today in damp conditions so it was fairly difficult to judge our set-up direction. At the end of the session I had a small electrical problem, so I couldn't do any tyre comparisons, which I'm disappointed about. Generally it was not a good day for me but we have plenty of information to analyse in order to decide the right way to go with set-up for tomorrow."

Olivier Panis (15th):
"It's difficult to judge where we stand after today. We have addressed some minor problems on the first session but now we have to work more on the set-up."


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