Chilton sets the pace in Monza
Briton on top in free practice
Max Chilton has opened his weekend in fine style by setting the pace in this morning's free practice session in Monza, leading from the front as he put himself at the top of the timesheets for most of the session and finishing four tenths ahead of Felipe Nasr and Luca Filippi.
The Briton's best lap of 1:31.850 was set just before the field returned to the pits for fresh tyres, claiming all three fastest sectors to blow away anyone else's chances of improving in the hot and sunny conditions at the famously fast circuit.
The session opened with Series returnee Filippi setting the early pace from Lotus GP pair Esteban Gutierrez and James Calado, but Chilton was soon taking the fight to the Italian: local knowledge helped to keep the battle going for a while (with Marcus Ericsson soon enmeshed in the fight too), but the Briton was clearly determined to take the honours, and soon owned P1 for the remainder of the session.
Few drivers improved in the second half of the session, with most teams concentrating on race set up and the F1 rubber on track becoming less effective over time, although most were still pushing: Calado pushed too hard at the Ascari complex and spun backwards into the wall at the exit, while Davide Valsecchi ran too deep at Variante della Roggia, and Rodolfo Gonzalez spun at the Parabolica as the clock wound down to zero.
Valsecchi and Ericsson led their rivals behind the top three, ahead of Giedo van der Garde, Gutierrez, Stefano Coletti, Nathanael Berthon and Luiz Razia, all of whom were within a second of Chilton's best time. The pace promises to be even more furious when qualifying opens in just a few hours time.