What the teams said – Friday in Italy
Ferrari were expected to be strong here and so it proved, with Leclerc continuing where he left off in Spa. The Monegasque driver topped both sessions and will fancy his chances of a fourth pole tomorrow. As for Vettel, he is playing catch up but will want to pull something special out of the bag in front of the tifosi tomorrow, in conditions that should favour the Scuderia.
Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:30.507, P8; FP2: 1:21.179, P3
“The day was ok, but we can still get more out of the car. FP1 was a bit of a scrappy session, with all the teams heading out as soon as the light went green after each red flag. We didn’t have the usual rhythm of a Friday, but the main thing is that we got some decent laps in and we know where our weaknesses are and what to focus on.
“For qualifying, we have to see what the conditions will be like, how careful we might need to be on the out lap, and how the tyres will work. Then we will take it from there. It is nice if you get a tow around here, and the priority is to get one perfect lap.
“Ahead of the race, you just want to improve the car and make it faster overall, because you need a car that allows you to have a good performance while also saving the tyres. We have some work to do, and I know that I can find more for tomorrow.”
Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:27.905, P1; FP2: 1:20.978, P1
“It was a special feeling to drive for Ferrari in Monza for the first time. I could actually see the tifosi cheering for us from the grandstands while I was driving, and it is just amazing to be here.
“The day went quite well. While it is nice to be quickest, I don’t think that we have a real picture of the whole situation yet due to the tricky conditions we faced on track today. In FP1, we were very competitive, especially on the intermediates, which is a positive. However, the lap times on the dry tyres in FP2 are not really representative and we have to keep working and understand where we can gain some more time. Our competitors are quick and we are still to see their full potential.
“The car felt good. In terms of race pace, we are not yet at the point we were in Spa. On the qualifying pace, we also have some work to do and we will give our all to do a good job tomorrow.”
Mercedes chose to concentrate on the tow on Friday, practising it to good effect. Hamilton in particular looked strong, pushing the fancied Ferraris close and even splitting them in FP2. As for Bottas, he struggled slightly more, spinning at the first chicane and running wide on occasion, but was still there or thereabouts.
Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:28.730, P4; FP2: 1:21.046, P2
"Practice was a bit of a challenge with the weather today; when it's raining, it's all risk and no real reward as you don't really learn a lot, so we didn't do a huge amount of running in the first session. It was mostly dry in FP2, so that was much better for everyone. As expected, the Ferraris are quite quick in a straight line, but our race pace felt strong and we seem to be a little closer on single lap pace than we were last week in Spa, so it looks like we can be in the fight. We'll go through the data with a fine comb tonight, trying to see where I can improve as a driver and also what we can tweak with the set-up, to make sure we can squeeze everything out of the car. It's going to be a really hard race on Sunday, but we seem to be close to the Ferraris which is good start to the weekend."
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:30.596, P9; FP2: 1:21.347, P4
"The first session was a bit messy, we couldn't work through our programme as planned, but that was the same for everyone. It was raining in different areas of the track at different times, which made it tricky to get detailed data on tyres and car behaviour, but we got a bit of a feel for the car and that wasn't too bad. The runs on higher fuel at the end felt good and the pace looked good as well, so that's promising for Sunday. However, there's still lots of room for improvements before we head into Qualifying tomorrow. We need to find the perfect set-up for our package and a good tow down the straights - that's going to be key if we want to be able to fight for pole."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"It's been a tricky day with the rain. We didn't want to take risks with the car in the wet so stayed in the garage for most of the first session. In the second session we were late going onto the Softs so missed the best window with the track. Apart from missing some running, the day has been pretty good. We were a long way off the Ferraris in Qualifying last week and it looks a bit better here although the same trend is evident where we are losing on the straights and gaining in the corners. It's difficult to know where we stand on the long runs as rain and traffic were affecting the laps but the drivers are both happy with the balance and the tyres seem to be working well. Red Bull and Ferrari have both made significant gains in single lap pace over the last few races and now qualifying is often our most difficult session. We don't expect tomorrow to be any different; hopefully we'll be able to challenge for pole but we don't expect it to be easy."
It was a mixed bag down at Red Bull - while they seem ahead of the midfield, the team don't look like they can mix it with Mercedes and Ferrari out front. Verstappen has a grid penalty for the race and thus is less likely to focus on qualifying, so the pressure will be on Albon to deliver a strong performance for the team.
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:30.100, P7; FP2: 1:21.350, P5
“It was a good day. Of course, the conditions were a bit tricky out there, but the car was working really well and we seem quite competitive on a track that doesn’t normally suit us. Around Monza, the real lap time is hard to see because of the tow but my fastest lap was done on my own and it felt good. I definitely think this new engine is a good step forward and you can feel the extra power which is positive. We know we won’t battle in qualifying as we will start at the back but looking at the long runs the pace was good and the car felt really nice to drive in all conditions which is always a big bonus. I would probably choose rain for Sunday starting at the back, as we will have a better chance of coming through the field, but even in the dry we can still be competitive and we will try to make a fun race out of it.”
Alex Albon - FP1: 1:29.025, P5; FP2: 1:21.589, P6
“There were a few crashes today as this track can be quite slippery when it’s raining, particularly with all the sap from the trees washing onto the track. We had mixed conditions, so we started out quite slowly but built up our confidence throughout the day. We are expecting similar conditions on Sunday so that is why everyone was out there trying to do some laps. I found the short runs were more positive than the long runs and, after today, I have a good idea about the things I need to change and work on for Sunday’s race. Of course, it’s not easy adjusting to less downforce, the braking feels different, but overall it didn’t feel too bad. I’m just finding my feet and that makes it important to get everything right. We will see what tomorrow brings but after today I’m feeling pretty good.”
Norris spent much of FP2 in the garage as a bystander when the team detected an oil leak. McLaren did well to get him back out in time to get a few laps in towards the end of the session. As for their positions in first practice - the team were one of the few to brave the drying conditions and bolt on the slick tyres as the clock ticked down.
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:28.211, P2; FP2: 1:22.482, P12
“It was a positive Friday with some encouraging pace in the wet and also on the slicks. I’m not entirely sure where we are because we didn’t run the Soft compound in FP2, so we’ll see where we fit tomorrow in the standings.
“The car behaved fairly well and I’m happy with our baseline start. There is always a margin to improve so we’ll work on it tonight."
Lando Norris - FP1: 1:28.450, P3; FP2: 1:23.561, P18
“A bit of a messy day. FP1 wasn’t bad. The track was drying, so it wasn’t like you could do proper testing. The track was just getting drier and drier. But the car felt pretty good, fairly comfortable and from the bit of wet running we did, I was pretty happy.
“Obviously FP2 was not what we’d planned. I went out for one lap at the beginning but then we had an oil leak, so we had to fix that which meant I could only go out for the last 20 minutes or so, and I used all of those laps just to get up to speed. They were the first few dry laps I did of the day so I wanted to push and feel the limit of the car, but at the same time it was trying to figure out where to brake and things like that. So, on the whole a bit messy, but some productive things.”
Andrea Stella, Performance Director
“Despite the weather and the red flags, FP1 was actually quite useful. We used the Wets, the Inters and the dry tyres and learned something from each. That may be relevant for Sunday when we’re expecting unsettled weather for the race.
“We ran exclusively on the dry tyres in FP2 – but the occasional light shower means the lap-times were not fully representative at times. Lando had a disrupted FP2 due to a leak which we had to investigate. We decided to use the time he had left at the end of the session for a long run: he’s going to be taking a PU penalty, so the most important thing was to look at the car in race trim.
“Overall, the car seems to be a bit better behaved than it did in Belgium. We’ll see tomorrow, when we should have warmer weather and hopefully good enough performance to compete for places in Q3.”
Gasly was the final culprit to bring out the red flags in FP1, after the Frenchman managed to beach himself on the sausage kerbs in the chicane after a spin. He eventually got going again much to his relief, and atoned later on by finishing 'best of the rest'. Kvyat too had moments, locking up into Turn 1 and flat spotting his tyres, but the STR14 does look quick in the damp, which bodes well for Sunday.
Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:29.960, P6; FP2: 1:22.260, P10
“I think we had a decent Friday and managed to get a lot of mileage covered. We were able to complete our plan and the car is behaving quite well, I think we can try to optimise the package further for tomorrow and see if we can squeeze a bit more out of it. I was generally quite satisfied with how today went, so we need to work well overnight to continue improving the car.”
Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:30.695, P10; FP2: 1:22.124, P7
“It was a good first day in the car with quite a few laps on the board. I’m feeling more comfortable with the car now and we managed to do a few laps on the wet tyre this morning and try different things, especially for me to get a good feeling with this car in the wet which was good. We had the first proper dry session in FP2 which I would say was quite positive, finishing with the seventh best time of the session. Our long run pace was strong so it’s looking good, although we know we will start from the back on Sunday, but at the moment I’m happy with the car. If we can find a bit more pace we should have an exciting race.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“As we arrived at the track this morning, the weather forecast looked like it would rain through both sessions, so it was a pleasant surprise that we managed to get dry running. Overall, we had a very productive day, the track started between wet and intermediate conditions, though it quickly evolved into intermediates. We did a rear wing level compare to see what would be optimum for those conditions.
"The car seemed reasonably well balanced out of the box and it looked quite competitive, which we are happy with. The rain stopped so we managed to get some dry running at the end of the session and, again, the car seemed reasonably balanced in the cool conditions. There were no big limitations in FP1, we just needed some fine tuning going into FP2. We didn’t make any major changes moving to the second session – there was some rain around and it was difficult to know when it was going to come. We went out straight away, as did many others, and completed our normal FP2 programme.
"The rain didn’t have a big impact on the session, so we completed the two normal low fuel runs followed by the high fuel ones. The cooler conditions seem to suit our car, so our main goal is to follow the changes to the track, and to maintain the competitiveness that we’ve shown today.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director
“The occasional rain meant we did not get as much dry running as we would have liked, but it is the same for everyone. However, more rain is forecast for Sunday, so running in the wet had some value. In Belgium we introduced Spec 4 on two of our cars and here we have fitted it to the remaining two. We are planning to have all four cars race with it on Sunday and we will now work on analysing today’s data to prepare as well as possible for qualifying and the race on this unique high-speed track.”
Perez had the biggest moment in FP1, spinning on the exit from Turn 10 and crashing into the barriers. He managed to damage both his front and rear wing, but the team worked hard to get the Mexican back out for the start of FP2. Given the mixed conditions, the missed running shouldn't prove too costly with much of the field in a similar boat.
Sergio Perez - FP1: No time set; FP2: 1:22.882, P16
“It was a bad start with a crash on my out lap in FP1. Luckily we didn’t lose any track time in FP2 when the track was a bit drier. We have a good amount of information for tomorrow and hopefully we’ll be able to close up the gap in qualifying when conditions could be very different.”
Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:33.976, P12; FP2: 1:22.706, P15
“The day was very disrupted because of the weather. We didn’t get much running in so it is hard to tell where we are relative to the other teams. It’s a shame for the fans who came out wanting to see the cars on track. The mixed conditions made it challenging to run and even when we put the dry tyres on this afternoon it started to drizzle so we will have to wait and see where we really stand. A lot of the guys did their performance run early in the session, when it was dry, but we were on the option tyre at that point. When we went to the qualifying tyre it started to rain so we didn’t show everything today. Let’s see what the data says and where we can improve overnight.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“Not the easiest of days with the wet weather impacting on both practice sessions. The damage to Sergio’s car caused us a few headaches but we managed to get the car repaired in time for the afternoon session. Lance had a more straightforward day and both drivers completed a good number of laps in the second session. It’s hard to judge our relative competitiveness based on such a disrupted day, but the forecast looks much brighter across the weekend. I think we’ve got a good chance of getting both cars into Q3 tomorrow afternoon.”
Raikkonen was the first to bring out the red flags in FP1, sliding backwards through the gravel at Parabolica after losing control in the wet. Fortunately said gravel lost the Finn enough speed that there was limited damage to his car and he was able to take part in FP2. Giovinazzi's session was almost as eventful, as he too spun but managed to stay on track. The Italian does look off the pace of his team mate, though, which he'll want to address at his home race.
Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: No time set; FP2: 1:22.523, P14
“Not a great start with my crash in FP1 but to be honest we didn’t really lose precious time as the mixed conditions continued and therefore no one could do any proper work. Same story in the afternoon, so even if the car felt good and we put in some good lap times we have to wait until tomorrow to see where exactly we are.”
Antonio Giovinazzi - FP1: 1:47.333, P15; FP2: 1:23.065, P17
“The conditions weren’t ideal today: the rain made it a bit tricky but in the end it’s the same for everybody and it was good to do some laps in the wet. It’ll be interesting to see what the weather does tomorrow and on Sunday, but our focus won’t change: we just need to work hard to get where we want. Qualifying will be tight once again. We will push to find the best setup tonight and to get a good result in qualifying.”
Renault tend to be stronger in race trim than on qualifying runs, and so it proved on Friday with both drivers looking handy on their longer stints. They might need the tow to progress into Q3 come qualifying, though, given they are on the fringes of the top 10. But who they choose to favour in that case remains a mystery, with the two drivers evenly matched thus far.
Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:35.133, P15; FP2: 1:22.338, P11
“It was okay today, although, our running was a little bit interrupted with the weather. Overall, everything went well today. I felt comfortable in the car from this morning, the baseline feels good, and we have the usual tweaks to make here and there. On a whole, it’s good and I was happy enough both in wet and dry conditions. I’ll welcome the weather as it comes.”
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:34.528, P13; FP2: 1:22.249, P9
“It’s always fun around Monza and it’s good to be back here. It was a pretty positive day and it was nice to get a bit of wet weather driving in. The morning went relatively well and the afternoon was solid. We probably managed more running than we first expected as the weather looked worse on the radar. I was happy to get laps under my belt and the car felt good. I’m comfortable in both dry and wet and we have a decent base for both set-ups.”
Rémi Taffin, Engine Technical Director
“We were quite lucky to have a dry track for most of the afternoon so we made the most of it. We were able to evaluate both types of tyres and do a long run on the softer compound. The results are pretty encouraging on both sides of the garage. In the end, it was particularly good because yesterday we wondered how many kilometres we would be able to achieve on dry tarmac today. Put together with this morning’s session, when we were able to run in wet conditions on the Intermediate tyres with rain a possibility for Sunday. Between FP1 and FP2, we were able to achieve our programme in preparation for Saturday and race day. It was a good day’s work.”
Magnussen missed a chunk of the first session with a fuel cap issue, in what was otherwise a quiet day for the team. Grosjean managed as full a programme as he could given the conditions, which should provide valuable data should the race be wet as predicted. As for tomorrow's qualifying, the team will need to perfect their set-ups in FP3 if they want to compete for Q3 spots.
Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:35.980, P16; FP2: 1:22.153, P8
“It was pretty good actually. The afternoon went well. In the morning, we just tried a little bit on the intermediates – I don’t think we were very competitive, the settings were not fully adjusted for the wet conditions. The afternoon was a surprise to be fair, I wasn’t expecting to be that comfortable in the car. The pace of the car was good, the feeling in the car was good, it was enjoyable. We did a long run, so I was happy with that. It’s been a good day, hopefully that carries on tomorrow.”
Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:34.715, P14; FP2: 1:22.511, P13
“It was good today, we got to try both wet and dry conditions. It seemed okay in both. It was a little bit messy with times, so I’m not putting too much into the classifications. The feeling was good on the long run, it went well. The car actually felt good and had some grip. It was nothing crazy but still pretty good. Overall, not a bad day.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“FP1 was obviously a little disrupted because of the rain. The only thing you could really do was try to learn how the intermediate and the wet tyres work. No conclusions taken from there. FP2, by being mostly dry, we got some proper testing in. We’re pretty happy with the laps we got in and the lessons learned. Hopefully we can get a good set up together for tomorrow.”
Kubica and Russell largely kept out of trouble and out of the headlines, with the Pole getting the better of his team mate in both sessions for once. Russell leads the qualifying head to head by 13-0 though, so is this the moment Kubica gets the measure of the rookie?
Robert Kubica - FP1: 1:37.816, P17; FP2: 1:23.737, P19
"Today the weather was the big player and so we did some running in wet and dry conditions. The pace is as expected, Monza is a very high-speed track and we are not the kings there. The car felt the best it has done all year, which is surprising as it is a circuit you normally struggle to get right straight away. However, the Italian fans create a good atmosphere and its nice to be back racing in Monza."
George Russell - FP1: 1:38.421, P18; FP2: 1:24.313, P20
"Today was quite inconvenient with the weather but every lap on track you learn something. FP1 was quite a constructive session for us as we did some back-to-back comparisons with a low downforce wing versus our standard one. FP2 was quite positive with the long run; I wasn’t very pleased with myself in the low fuel run but overall, I think we made the most of a tricky day."
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer
"The rain and red flags in FP1 made it difficult for everyone. We completed a few laps on each car using the Intermediate tyre, which allowed us to take a first look at some new parts for this event. Everyone was able to get a few laps done in dry but cool conditions at the beginning of FP2 before more rain fell. Towards the end of the session the light rain wasn’t a big issue and possibly provided conditions like those which we will see on Sunday afternoon.
"Both Robert and George made the most of the variable conditions to begin their preparations for the weekend and both did so without damaging the car. We will analyse the data they collected before finalising the specification for Saturday and the run programme for FP3."
Mario Isola, head of F1 and Car Racing
"It was a tricky opening day at Monza, but that didn't mean that it wasn't useful, especially because the weather looks set to be uncertain for the rest of the weekend. As a result, teams made the most of running the slick and intermediate tyres, in order to be prepared for anything and also to assess the crossover points. The full wet tyres were also used, but only by a few drivers for a handful of laps. Nonetheless, it's true that both sessions were heavily interrupted, which means that teams are still missing quite a lot of data and the overall picture of tyre behaviour remains incomplete. The work carried out in free practice tomorrow morning will be particularly vital as the teams head into qualifying, depending on how the conditions look."