McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was pleased with his progress following practice on Friday at Monza, ahead of this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, the latest round in the 2009 FIA F1 World Championship.

Hamilton was quickest this morning and despite losing a piece bodywork - a right-hand-side fuel-filler cap - on his first lap, was immediately on the pace, topping the timesheets for the whole session. Indeed he was the only driver to break the 1 minute 24 second barrier in FP1, with a 1m 23.936s lap.

In the afternoon he was slower and only eleventh quickest, as he ran with heavier fuel-loads, but despite that he still ended the day second on the combined timesheets, only fractionally behind Adrian Sutil, the only other driver to post a 1m 23s lap.

"I'm pleased with our progress," Hamilton reflected. "It's always a little nerve-wracking when you arrive at a unique circuit such as this because you want to see if you've taken the right direction with the car's aerodynamics. But this morning's session showed us that the engineers had made a very accurate assessment of what would be needed.

"KERS certainly helps around here - we can expect it to be worth nearly four tenths in qualifying tomorrow - but we also made some good progress with our overall package. This afternoon was spent on heavier fuel-loads, so you can't read too much into the times, but I'm encouraged by where we are."

Heikki Kovalainen meanwhile was also on the pace in the sister McLaren-Mercedes MP4-24 and he was second quickest in first practice and fourth in practice two, his best effort for the day a 1m 24.332s.

"At Monza, you're always facing the problem of balancing overall downforce with grip through the corners - and I think today was possibly better than we anticipated. We're quicker in the corners than we were last year, which is good," added the Finn.

"The KERS advantage here is nearly four tenths per lap so it's really helpful along the straights and out of the slower corners.

"Others have more downforce compared with us, but we have this fantastic KERS from Mercedes-Benz. It's funny: the teams have all adopted different technical solutions but the laptimes are still very close together - that's the beauty of F1."

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