Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton took a practice session each ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.
Ferrari – Good at home
Ferrari appears to have the edge going into qualifying over Red Bull which is partly due to the upgrades they have brought this weekend. Also, Monza being a fast flowing circuit where you need that downforce and a good engine to perform well.
But they would have been hoping to have gone faster beating Mercedes on pace. We saw in FP1 both teams too different tyre strategies on track so they have not given us a picture of their true pace to Mercedes. They did led before Hamilton did his quick run on the soft and medium tyre. This should become clearer in FP3 tomorrow morning.
Throughout the practice sessions the story has emerged that Max Verstappen has been “gentle warning” by race director Charlie Whiting about his driving in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said Whiting had told Verstappen he risked disqualification. “Charlie was keen to show him a video of Spa. It was a gentle warning” Said Horner. Verstappen was shown video of the incidents at Spa and was warned he could receive a black and white flag for such behaviour in future.
The black and white flag is shown to a driver who is considered to be guilty of unsportsmanlike behaviour. Tonight there is expected to be a frosty drivers meeting when its expected to be discussed.
Mercedes once again appear to be the team to beat which we were expecting because Monza is a high speed circuit. Mercedes are the stronger car and Monza / Spa are very different circuits but history tells us surprisingly that a good car at either is good for the other circuit.
In FP1 Mercedes set there fastest times on the supersoft tyres while both Ferrari’s used the soft tyres. With Mercedes and Ferrari opting to use different tyres it gives no real indication of where the teams are relative to each other.
In FP2 Ferrari led before Mercedes switched to the supersoft with Rosberg. B
This weekend is expected to be tough for Red Bull because of the nature of the circuit and was well off the pace we expected. While there has progress by Renault this season they expected Monza to be difficult for them. Red Bull will I think be on row three behind Mercedes and Ferrari.
This has been said by both Daniel Ricciardo who said “After today’s action I think we are more or less where we expected to be. I would like to be closer to Ferrari but we didn’t really find the times on the supersofts, though the softs felt competitive. I think tomorrow it will tighten up at the top even more.”
Max Verstappen added “We knew that it would be a more difficult weekend for the team as this is definitely the most challenging track for us on the calendar.”
“I think it wasn’t too bad today and we can definitely improve for tomorrow. We found a good balance in between the sectors so it’s now up to us and the car.”
Fernando Alonso may have been surprised by the pace that the Honda power unit had in FP2. McLaren like Red Bull were expecting a difficult weekend. Alonso warned this was going to be tough this weekend in Monza.
Plus the strong showing in FP2 following a gearshift problem. He finished thirteenth with team-mate Jenson Button eleventh. Alonso said “We didn’t have perfect reliability today – there are still some concerns here and there – but it wasn’t anything really significant, which is good news.”
“Nonetheless, we need to take care of every last detail because we don’t want to lose out on scoring some points when it matters most.”
Once again I see the fight for pole being between both the Mercedes who have the advantage when they go into qualifying mode. Ferrari may egde out Red Bull to be on the third row. Without penalties we should have a fight between the two Mercedes