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What the teams said – Friday in Italy

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 04: Lance Stroll of Canada driving the (18) Racing Point RP20 Mercedes

Mercedes

At the top of the timing sheets across both sessions today, it was plain sailing for Mercedes as they got their weekend off to the perfect start. While Bottas was the pick of the bunch in FP1, Hamilton returned the favour by nearly the exact same margin in FP2 and those two seem poised for a titanic battle for pole tomorrow. With plenty of track time on the harder compound tyres to boot, have they learned enough to nail their strategy come Sunday?

Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:20.948, P2; FP2: 1:20.192, P1

"The car didn't feel great in the first session but in the afternoon, it felt like we made some encouraging improvements and it was much better. We have a few more steps to make overnight and then I think it'll be where it needs to. It's quite a bumpy track here and with the low downforce, there's a lot of sliding. You need to find the right balance with the bumps and between the low and high-speed turns. The field is typically a lot closer here, compared to Spa, as it's such a fast lap and there aren't many corners. Valtteri's quick here, too, so it's going to be a fun battle. It's going to be interesting in qualifying, obviously we didn't get our final lap in last year and I think the last corner will be a bit of a nightmare with everyone trying to get a gap, so it's going to be hard work."

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:20.703, P1; FP2: 1:20.454, P2

"The car felt pretty good out there throughout the day, but there is always more to come. I'm sure we can still improve it, for example the rear stability was lacking a bit in a few of the corners. My lap in practice two wasn't great so from my side, there's quite a bit more to come as well. It's an unusual track here, quite stop and start, with not so many high-speed corners and traction being very important out of the slow turns. The margins are so fine here and there aren't many corners to make the difference. I was a little surprised by the lap times and performance compared to the others at this stage in the weekend, but I'm sure every team will find more time and it'll be closer tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to it."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"The car seems to be working well here and it feels like we are in a more competitive region with regards to straightline speed, compared to last weekend in Spa. Most of the day was spent understanding the tyres. It's a bit hotter than last year, which will shift things around a bit, but overall they all seem pretty similar in terms of performance, especially on a long run. There's the usual work to do overnight on the balance, traction is strong at the moment and we have a few places where the front end needs to be better and others where the rear is a bit weak. Tomorrow should be interesting, to see where everyone is in terms of power in qualifying as it's the introduction of the new Technical Directive, that requires teams to use a single mode. The Mercedes-powered teams are probably going to be the most affected on a single lap, but our overall package has looked pretty good here today so hopefully we won't get any nasty surprises."

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 04: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W11 during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 04, 2020 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Red Bull

It was a mixed day for Red Bull. They appear quick, but with both drivers suffering issues, that feeling doesn’t translate to being near the top of the timing sheet. Firstly, Verstappen spun out of the Ascari chicane in FP1, losing his front wing as he connected with the barriers. The team did well to get him back out so quickly, but he could only manage fifth when he bolted on the soft tyres. As for Albon, he had his fastest lap time deleted in FP2 for exceeding track limits, but at least looked up there in FP1. With the midfield looking so quick, can they lock out the second row tomorrow?

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:21.641, P5; FP2: 1:21.228, P5

“We are struggling with general balance and grip today so we have quite a bit of work to do and it wasn’t the best start to the weekend. We were all trying to find the limits out on track and at Turn 11 if you have a bit of a moment then it is better to just let the car run wide as it doesn’t really matter during practice, which is why lots of us were having times deleted. The Team fixed my car quickly during FP1 and I didn’t have any affects from that in FP2 so there are no concerns there. I’m not too sure yet how the tyre wear will be but normally if you have a balanced car then the tyre wear will be ok, so we need to find that balance before qualifying.”

Alex Albon - FP1: 1:21.500, P3; FP2: 1:21.883, P14

“I was feeling okay in the morning session and the afternoon wasn’t bad, we just need to touch up a few things on the car for the low and high speed corners. It’s very close out there just as we expected and I think a tenth could be the difference between three or four positions. We know we’ve got some homework to do so we can fine tune the car balance to where we want it to be but I think there’s potential to improve our package here. My best lap in FP2 was deleted for exceeding track limits in Turn 11 which happened to a lot of us today. What we’re seeing is people backing up into you in the last corner as they start their lap and so you get their dirty air and then you struggle to stay tight to the corner. Obviously everyone is trying to make a gap to start their lap but it should be a little easier when qualifying starts because everyone is pushing at the same time.”

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 04: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 on track during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 04, 2020 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Luca Bruno/Pool via Getty Images)

McLaren

McLaren suffered more gremlins today, with a suspected power unit issue keeping Norris in the pits for much of FP2. When he did make it out on track, the youngster was quick, so quick in fact that he grabbed an eye-catching P3 on the leaderboard. He did set his time later than his rivals though, when the track had ramped up. As for Sainz, he set his flying lap earlier than his rivals so the fact it held up as sixth fastest is certainly encouraging. One thing he needs to avoid, though, is any more lawnmowing, after running wide through the Lesmos in FP2.

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:21.821, P10; FP2: 1:21.313, P6

“It was a decent Friday and the pace seemed encouraging. I think we’ve had a strong couple of sessions, where we managed to try a lot of different set up combinations and got to try laps with and without a tow. We’ll need to have a look at the data on the long runs and work out how we’re looking there too, but overall it’s been a smooth Friday.”

Lando Norris - FP1: 1:21.747, P8; FP2: 1:21.089, P3

“Not the best Friday just because of the lack of running. We didn’t really get the chance to do any high-fuel runs, so we’re not in the best position. We’re in good shape for tomorrow, but we’re still a bit behind in our prep for Sunday. So, we might have to compromise FP3 tomorrow to try to fit in some more high-fuel runs and catch up.

“I have a decent feeling for the car, but this is the track where you want good confidence throughout the lap – you want confidence under braking and in the high-speed corners, and I’m not quite as confident as I could be today due to the lack of laps. We’ll try to make up for it tomorrow.”

Andrea Stella, Racing Director

“Monza is an interesting track with unique characteristics, which demand we run the car in a very low-downforce configuration. We had a few things to test today and adapt to that configuration and, overall, the two sessions were productive. However, it wasn’t a perfect day because we had some issues with Lando’s power unit, which took a few runs to identify and correct. That was accomplished towards the end of FP2, allowing him to do a run at the end of FP2.

“Overall, we’re relatively happy with the behaviour of the car and what we’ve learned today. We hope we can take that forward into the rest of the weekend.”

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Carlos Sainz, McLaren MCL35, leads Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35

AlphaTauri

AlphaTauri had a great Friday and there will be quite a few raised eyebrows in the paddock tonight after today’s performances. Neither driver ran the soft compound tyre in FP1 yet they ended up in the heart of the top 10 with Kvyat an incredible fourth. Roll on second practice and only a late, late lap by Norris denied Gasly a top-three finish. The Frenchman did blot his copybook slightly by spinning towards the end of FP1 but on the whole, the team will be delighted with their pace here at their home event.

Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:21.667, P6; FP2: 1:21.121, P4

“Today was by far the best Friday since the start of the season. We were sixth this morning and fourth in the afternoon, and I must say the feeling in the car was really good! I could push and managed to put in some good laps. Unfortunately, we had a small issue with a damper at the end of the session while doing the long run, so we had to stop a bit earlier than the others, but generally speaking, we are pretty happy. The low downforce set up that we have here in Monza works quite well, but I feel like we can still improve a bit for tomorrow. I think there will be a few surprises with the new engine mode rules, so we’ll see. It’s very tight and, especially here with the tows in qualifying, it will be important to get it right.”

Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:21.555, P4; FP2: 1:21.376, P7

“It was a pretty good Friday. We worked on both short and long runs and managed to complete many laps without any issues. I think we did a good job today, even if I wasn’t entirely happy with my shorter runs. We’ll keep on working to improve further for tomorrow when it really counts.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

“The team showed a good performance last weekend in Spa, both in qualifying and the race. Coming to Monza - which shares some similar characteristics to Spa, particularly on the aero efficiency - we were expecting to show another strong performance in the midfield. We spent FP1 understanding the optimal aero configuration of the car, so we completed multiple tests across the two cars to work out what the best compromise between downforce and drag was. We also looked at optimising the set up; one of the big differences this week is that the track is considerably hotter than it was last week, so the tyres perform differently.

"We faced some different balance limitations here compared to previous weeks, so we worked toward addressing those in FP1. The drivers were happy with the performance but not super happy with the balance coming out of first practice, so we made some further changes for FP2, which appeared to be in the right direction as the car is looking competitive over both the short and the long run. Pierre’s running at the end of FP2 was cut short as we saw an issue on a damper when he came into the pitlane for his last pit stop, but in the end, he didn’t miss too much time in the session.

"It will be difficult to understand where everyone is because of the introduction of the latest technical directive, which refers to engine modes. We know what is best for our weekend, but we don’t know what other teams are doing on Friday. It will be a bit trickier to understand the true ranking of the field, but from all of the data we’ve gathered, we’re in the mix and we’ve got the ability to fight in the midfield. We’re looking forward to putting in a good performance for qualifying tomorrow, as well as Sunday's race.”

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Russian Formula One driver Daniil Kvyat of Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda in action during the first practice session of the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at the Monza race track, Monza, Italy 04 September 2020. The 2020 Formula One Grand Prix of Italy will take place on 06 September 2020.

Racing Point

After falling slightly behind their midfield rivals last weekend, Racing Point have yet to show the sort of pace here that made so many headlines earlier in the season. With this track similar in characteristics to Spa, will they struggle or can they find something to climb back up the top 10? On Friday’s showing they looked solid if unspectacular, managing a full programme for both drivers but yet to truly unleash that RP20 on this high-speed track.

Sergio Perez – FP1: 1:21.747, P7; FP2: 1:21.594, P10

“Today was a good start to the weekend and I think we know where we can find some more performance overnight. We now understand where some of our weaknesses were at Spa and we are working to find some solutions for the low downforce set up. I think qualifying is going to be a challenge tomorrow because everybody wants to get a tow and, like last year, we could see some traffic jams. Every session in qualifying will be a close fight, but we can aim for a start inside the top 10. The margins are close and our rivals are strong too, but we can be confident in our chances.”

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:22.131, P13; FP2: 1:21.389, P8

“It’s looking very competitive out there so we could have a challenge on our hands this weekend. There’s some work to do tonight, because we haven’t got the car where we want it just yet. We will study the data tonight and see where we can make some changes for tomorrow. I think qualifying could be quite messy because everybody is looking for a tow. Teams will be playing games so we just need to try and position ourselves as best we can.”

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 04: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Racing Point RP20 Mercedes during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 04, 2020 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Renault

The times weren’t spectacular but don’t discount Renault here. After a strong performance last weekend, their car does look quick here, as it did last season. Ricciardo’s lap time on the soft in FP2 was good enough for third but was deleted after he exceeded track limits through the final corner, while Ocon was doing his best to provide a tow and thus sacrificed the best of his tyres. They will be ones to watch tomorrow.

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:21.984, P12; FP2: 1:21.697, P11

“It’s not the most important day for lap times and I’m pleased with how we’ve gone through our plan today. It was very complicated with traffic and slipstreaming, so we’ve learnt a little bit on that ahead of qualifying. We also learnt more on set up between FP1 and FP2 and I felt we made a good step. On the whole, it was a fairly typical Friday. Our long runs were also consistent and that was pretty good. There’s more to come tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:21.789, P9; FP2: 1:22.080, P15

“It was a good day and I’m very happy with our work. I was already feeling comfortable in FP1, finishing ninth, but I knew there was a good bit more in it. We showed the pace in FP2, however, our lap time was removed for track limits. I’m not concerned about that as it’s a small thing and today is about finding the limits. We know if we keep it on track tomorrow, we’re holding onto that lap time, which should put us up the leaderboard. Our long runs were good as well and that was nice. We’ll concentrate on tomorrow and look to make it count.”

Ciaron Pilbeam, Chief Race Engineer

“We’ve had a good day with both cars running through their programmes without any problems and both drivers feeling relatively happy. Neither car did the lap time that they could have done on the soft tyre, so the time sheets don’t represent our low fuel pace. Daniel’s soft tyre lap was deleted for exceeding track limits at the last corner, but that lap was competitive otherwise and we have something to work with tonight. Finding a tow in qualifying will be a thing and today we already saw cars jostling for position on out laps, and I’m sure that will continue tomorrow. It’s been a good day all round with both cars competitive on both low and high fuel.”

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 04: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Renault Sport Formula One Team RS20 stops in the Pitlane during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 04, 2020 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Ferrari

The Scuderia were under pressure after a poor outing in Spa last time out, and the first practice session did little to dispel the idea that they could exit in Q1 tomorrow, with Vettel winding up a lowly 19th. At least Leclerc fared better in P11, although the Monegasque was the more talkative of the two on the radio in the afternoon when he complained of a raft of issues with the car. He ran wide through the gravel, Vettel spun and kissed the barriers – but they were at least quicker on the leaderboard. Whether they can maintain those improvements into tomorrow remains to be seen.

Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:22.988, P19; FP2: 1:21.733, P12

"Today we used the time to work on the SF1000 in order to be in a better place tomorrow. The car was quite difficult to drive but it’s not the first time this year. As expected, we are losing out down the straight, but we also have to work on the balance to have a better performance in sector two.

"Also, on heavy fuel the car is not easy to drive, partly because we have to run with set tyre pressures. I think there will be a big pack of cars fighting to the hundredths in quali and I can image it will be quite similar in the race. It will definitely be complicated."

Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:21.904, P11; FP2: 1:21.503, P9

"It was a difficult day. On the one hand, we were positively surprised by our qualifying pace, on the other, we expected to do a bit better on the high fuel runs, so we need to find something to improve our race pace.

"The car was very difficult to drive in race trim, where we struggled quite a bit with the balance and the overall degradation of the tyres.

"Our target is to be as competitive as possible in both fuel conditions. I don’t think that we can expect much more for qualifying than what we’ve shown today, but I believe there’s still room for improvement on our race pace."

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Monaco's Formula One driver Charles Leclerc of Scuderia Ferrari (R) and German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari (L) in action during the first practice session of the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at the Monza race track, Monza, Italy 04 September 2020. The 2020 Formula One Grand Prix of Italy will take place on 06 September 2020.

Haas

Magnussen sat out the closing stages of FP1 with a cooling issue, but apart from that the team had a much better day, reliability-wise, than they managed last weekend. Running the Ferrari power unit at such a high-speed track, they were a team that expected to struggle here so won’t be too discouraged by their lap times today.

Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:22.409, P14; FP2: 1:22.254, P18

“The day went okay actually. I had my fastest lap time deleted in FP2, which I’m still not sure about, but I’m as stubborn as you can get. I’ll argue I still had a bit of tyre touching the white line. I think had it stuck it would have put us P12 just in front of Sebastian (Vettel). The car didn’t behave too badly – the long run pace was okay. Now we just need to make sure we’re preparing everything for Sunday, as obviously there’s going to be traffic, we’ll need more aero adjustments and so on. We’re looking to see how we can make the car a little more bullet proof. Tomorrow will be hard though. We have to make sure we’re in the right position at the right time in qualifying. We’ll do our best but without a tow here – there’s no chance.”

Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:22.422, P15; FP2: 1:22.088, P16

“We didn’t get much running last week on the Friday so at least we got some in today. We’ve learned a bit more about the car this time and we’ve tried a few things. There’s plenty to look at tonight and from there we can make some decisions. We knew coming here that this track wasn’t going to be our favorite – we’ll still try and get something out of it. With the power mode changes this weekend, who knows what could happen. It’s hard to say how qualifying will go but we’ll see what we can do.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“I’d say things probably went a little bit better than expected today, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions too early because with the new engine mode regulations coming in this weekend – we can only see tomorrow where everyone stands. Today was still a free-for-all, I’ve no idea what people were running. We are not unhappy with what we did today, notably our long run pace was good. So, I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing what the new engine mode regulations bring for everybody – then we’ll see where we stand.”

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 04: Romain Grosjean of France and Haas F1 arrives at the circuit ahead of practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 04, 2020 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

Both Alfa drivers delivered a full programme for the team, exploring all three tyre compounds as they seek a strong performance at their home race. Giovinazzi has the twin pressures of chasing a strong home result whilst atoning for his driver-error crash last weekend, and got off to a good start by beating his team mate in both sessions.

Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:22.619, P17; FP2: 1:22.147, P17

“It was a regular Friday on my side, even though at the end of the day I didn’t really put a lap time together and that made quite a difference. There’s still work to be done to improve, of course, but that’s not different from our usual weekends. We need to do our homework tonight and see where it puts us tomorrow. I believe qualifying will be a close fight and putting in a perfect lap will be the key. With everyone looking for a tow, it’ll be chaotic, but we just have to see how it plays out.”

Antonio Giovinazzi - FP1: 1:22.552, P16; FP2: 1:21.786, P13

“It was a fairly positive day and I feel we did some progress. Of course, tomorrow’s qualifying will be a whole different story but I am happy with the work we did today. A place in Q2 is my objective and I think we can be in for a shout at it. Getting a tow will be important and it’s a necessity to have a good time, but you still have to put the rest of the lap together. I remember what happened at the end of qualifying last year and I am expecting similar scenes this time around. We need to manage it right, go out on track at the right time and be in the right position to exploit it.”

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 04: Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy driving the (99) Alfa Romeo Racing C39 Ferrari during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 04, 2020 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Williams

Nissany took the reins from Russell in FP1 and acquitted himself well, getting more much-needed laps under his belt. Roll on FP2 and Russell returned but wasn’t too happy with the handling of his Williams, nor the antics of his fellow drivers as they jostled for position on out laps. Latifi had a quiet but efficient day by comparison, and will hope to finally nudge ahead of his team mate in qualifying tomorrow.

George Russell – FP2: 1:22.927, P20

"It was tricky out there. We went quite extreme with the set up for my second low fuel run and it was too far, which is why I only improved one tenth from my first run to the second. Our pace is definitely much better than we showed on paper today but I don’t think we are necessarily in the fight with Alfa and Haas this weekend. The characteristics of this circuit do go against us. We will be there in the race though and see what we can do."

Roy Nissany - FP1: 1:22.826, P18

"It was another great FP1 session and we tested all the items that we wanted to. I was very pleased with my own performance, and the team was as well. I feel like I have made good progress since my first FP1 outing in Barcelona. We did well there and even better today, so I am happy, satisfied and it was emotional to drive such a legendary track for the first time in a Formula 1 car. As always, I kept my emotions down, had my robot mode on and performed."

Nicholas Latifi - FP1: 1:23.120, P20; FP2: 1:22.825, P19

"It is no secret that we are carrying a lot of drag on the car and the straights are a bit of a challenge. We were quite far off in FP2 but there are still a lot of places that we can improve the car, it is not in the window that I want it so we can definitely be closer than we are. It is early days and we normally make a step forwards for qualifying. There is some work to do tonight."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"We have a bit of work to get through tonight to see where we can improve the car as we are not currently where we want to be. There are probably a few easy gains from where we were today, but there are other areas that require a bit more thought to see if we can better balance the speed on the straights and in the corners.

"FP1 was a good session with Roy Nissany taking George’s seat and again impressing with this pace and feedback. He did a good job at what can be a challenging circuit, and, as in Spain, his contribution to the engineering programme was excellent and well judged. George took back his car for FP2 and was quickly up to speed. He tried to push the set up very hard for his second run, which helped expose the car’s limitations, and has given us something to look at overnight. Nicholas had a good day making progress in both sessions as he too experimented with set up. Conditions were calm and consistent throughout the day, allowing him to try a few things. In the end, he set his best time on his second attempt on the new soft tyre, which suggests there is a quite a lot more to come tomorrow when the soft compound will easily be a single timed lap tyre."

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 04: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Williams Racing FW43 Mercedes on track during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 04, 2020 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Miguel Medina/Pool via Getty Images)

Pirelli

Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing

"Today’s tyre performance was exactly in line with expectations, although it’s hard to compare with last year as the weather conditions were quite different. Between the hard and the soft tyre there’s about a second in total: about 0.6s between soft and medium and 0.4s between medium and hard. We saw some long runs on all three compounds today which suggests that the hard compound could also play an important role at what is set to be a one-stop race. As expected, we saw teams trying out a few different tactics for qualifying, which has always been a feature of Monza. The warm conditions we had today should remain for the rest of the weekend, which means that the information captured in free practice should be very relevant to both qualifying and the race. The tyres themselves have stood up well to the challenge of the ‘Temple of Speed’ over the long runs, even with the softest compound".

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