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Friday in Italy - team by team

02 Sep 2016

A round-up of the opening day's action from the Formula 1 Gran Premio Heineken d'Italia 2016 at Monza...
Williams

Bottas bore the brunt of the workload as Massa lost 50 minutes in FP1 with a turbo problem, then 30 in FP2 when his brake-by-wire system had to be replaced. But on pace they seemed to have taken a step forward.

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:24.785, P7; FP2: 1:24.299, P8

“Today went well. It’s always nice to drive here in Monza and we got everything that was planned done so we have plenty of information on downforce levels and how the tyres are performing in short and long runs. For sure we have a lot of work to do for tomorrow, but overall it was a good day. I think it’s going to be very close here and, looking at today and the long run pace we had, we definitely can have a good week. It’s too early to speculate much more than that, but I think we have an opportunity to be in reasonable positions this weekend.”

Felipe Massa - FP1: 1:25.840, P14; FP2: 1:24.556, P11

“It wasn’t a fantastic Friday for me personally as we had a couple of issues in FP1 and FP2 that limited my track time and what I could learn about the car. I’m in a very relaxed place after announcing my retirement plans yesterday, so my focus now is on having a competitive final eight races. I’ll be working hard overnight with the team to keep improving the car so that we can have another good result for Williams at what is a very special track for me.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“It’s been a bit of a disjointed day today with reliability issues, especially with Felipe’s car. He lost about 50 minutes with a turbo issue in FP1, and then about 30 minutes in FP2 as we had to change his brake by wire system. The main focus has been on assessing downforce levels to find the right compromise between downforce and drag, and I think we got some really clear answers on this towards the end of the session. Both drivers are right there on low and high fuel, so whilst there are a few things for us to do tonight, we’re confident going into tomorrow’s running.”

Renault

On paper there wasn't much to shout about, with Magnussen propping up the timesheet in FP1 and Palmer doing likewise in FP2. Both got through their data-gathering programmes though and believe that the team can take the step forward for FP3 that they managed at Spa. Magnussen said he was suffering no ill effects from his hefty shunt there as he got back to work in the spare chassis.

Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:26.956, P22; FP2: 1:25.555, P19

“The car was a bit of a handful in the morning so we worked on dialling out the understeer and improving the ride to enable faster and more consistent laps. We got ourselves to a better balance for the afternoon and the degradation was better than we expected. Physically I feel fine in the car, it’s just like being back in the office, so there are no areas of concern in that regard. Tomorrow we want to be further up the order as Sunday should be an interesting race.”

Jolyon Palmer - FP1: 1:26.811, P21; FP2: 1:25.833, P22

“We’ve not set the world alight for pace today but we’ve been able to work through our programme and we’re confident to be able to take a step forward tomorrow. It’s a great track and it feels really special to blast through the trees. We saw in Spa that we could improve significantly between Friday and Saturday so we’re looking for something similar here in Monza.”

Bob Bell, Chief Technical Officer

“We completed a full programme today with the cars, drivers and team performing exactly as required. In our evaluations we played particular attention to the performance of the Pirelli super soft compound tyre as it’s a step softer than we’d usually see for Monza and we were pleasantly pleased at its performance opportunities. As usual, we’ll scour the data accumulated with the objective of being faster on track for tomorrow’s qualifying session.”

Toro Rosso

This was always going to be a tough weekend for the other ‘home’ team here, as the STR11 lacks development, and both drivers admitted they were struggling. 

Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:26.074, P17; FP2: 1:25.614, P20

“It was a productive Friday. We gathered plenty of data, important for our knowledge, and we now have a lot of work to do. This track isn’t an easy one for us so we have a bit of a difficult weekend ahead.”

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:25.973, P16; FP2: 1:25.240, P17

“I think it’s been a busy Friday, as expected. There was a lot of testing going on in the background during both practice sessions and I’m happy to have tried everything and completed the run plan. Obviously, I’m not so satisfied with the pace, but we expected this here… Now it’s time to work hard tonight and see how to get a bit closer to the top ten.”

Phil Charles, Chief Race Engineer

“At recent races we have under-delivered relative to our expected performance level. As a result, we have invested a lot of today’s running in completing a program to re-test some of the car changes we made just before the summer break. Monza is quite stand-out in terms of wing level and so to give the most representative results looking forward to the rest of the year, a lot of the running today was completed on a wing level which is not perfectly suited to the long Monza straights. The program involved lots of constant speed procedures on track and lots of changes in the garage. The mechanics worked particularly hard to get us through this busy program and the drivers and engineers did a good job to ensure comparable laps. We know coming to Monza that this will be a quite difficult home race for us given our usual straight line rankings and no power unit development with our 2015 engine. However, I hope that the tests completed today will give us a good direction going forwards, even if the data analysis job is very large in the short term and we will need to be in ‘damage limitation mode’ at this event.”

Haas

Haas had their best practice showing of the year in FP1 with sixth and ninth places, and Grosjean was able to run the new version of the Ferrari PU in his VF-16. The Frenchman had a few brake balance issues, but was again well within the top 10 in FP2.

Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:24.763, P6; FP2: 1:24.516, P9

“It was a pretty good day at the office. The car felt good this morning straightaway. It was the same again in the afternoon, with higher track temperatures. The guys did a good job. It’s a very good car for Monza. We tried different (tyre) compounds. I did a high-fuel, low-fuel outing. There were no major issues. There are a few small things we can improve but, generally, I’m very happy with the car.”

Esteban Gutierrez - FP1: 1:25.113, P9; FP2: 1:24.674, P14

“We completed our program working a lot on understanding the tyre’s behaviour, because here we require a lot of traction and the tyre’s temperature directly affects that. We’re trying our best to find the maximum traction without compromising the overall balance of the car. I think we’ll have some interesting data to analyse so we can fine tune everything for tomorrow. The pack is very tight, so it’ll be important to get everything spot on throughout each sector, which will be a challenge, but that’s competition and it’s what we love doing.”

Guenther Steiner, team principal

“FP2 was a pretty good session for us. No major issues. We ran through our program as planned. It seems we’ve found a respectable balance with the car. In the midfield it’s very tight, so we still don’t know where we’ll be tomorrow after qualifying. We’ll evaluate all the data we’ve collected from today and see what we want to try tomorrow to make the cars go faster.”

Force India

Neither Hulkenberg nor Perez was happy with the balance of their cars, and the missing lap time was critical in the hyper-close confines of the midfield. So there’s work to be done tonight. Celis, however, achieved his aim of doing a good, clean job in Hulkenberg’s car in FP1.

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:24.650, P5; FP2: 1:24.653, P13

“I don’t think today went as well as we thought it would. The balance of the car is still not where I want it to be so we need to understand why that is the case. There are still a couple of tenths we can find and that should be a good starting point. The times show the battle in the midfield is even closer than usual, so we need to keep pushing to come out on top. In the morning session I had a chance to try the Halo for the first time. It was just an installation lap, but I didn’t feel it gave me any problems with visibility. Getting out of the car is a bit more of a struggle, but it will be interesting to see how this technology develops over time.”

Nico Hulkenberg - FP2: 1:24.587, P12

“It’s been a relatively short Friday for me, being in the car for FP2 only; but the afternoon went to plan and it was interesting to see our pace during the long runs. We managed some good runs and the team should have plenty of data to work with tonight. At this stage, I am not as happy as I would like to be with the car: I am still struggling a bit with the balance, so we need to improve things. We need to find some more harmony in the car to get us in better shape for tomorrow.”

Alfonso Celis - FP1: 1:25.367, P12

“I am really happy about how the day went. It was an honour to be able to drive in Monza - it’s a place with such an incredible history. The most important thing, for me, is to keep showing the team that I am progressing and not making mistakes. As always, the priority is to bring the car home in one piece, but every time I get in the car my confidence increases and I can push a little more. Monza is not an easy track to drive, even though the car is very good, especially if you are not in the car every other weekend. You have very high speeds, especially on a light downforce set-up, and trying not to lock the brakes at the end of the straights is a challenge. Every time you go out it’s a compromise between pushing hard and looking after the car, but I am happy with my performance and I am pleased the team is satisfied with it.”

Robert Fernley, deputy team principal

“We always see a very tight grid in Monza and today’s practice times suggest the same will be true this year. There is very little to choose between the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh fastest teams, so there is a lot riding on the qualifying session tomorrow. Today was fairly routine: we worked through our programme, gathered the tyre data we needed on all three compounds and have to make some important decisions tonight on how to approach the weekend. We ran Alfonso in place of Nico this morning and he did a very good job once again. Nico and Sergio were not especially happy with the car balance this afternoon, so we made a few set-up changes to resolve those issues - but, as often happens, to improve one area involves a compromise somewhere else. That said, we will do our homework; make the changes required to improve, and we will be working hard to secure our place in Q3 tomorrow.”

Mercedes

It was a problem-free day for the championship leaders, with the fastest times and the two drivers splitting the tyre assessments. Hamilton ran the supersofts then the softs, Rosberg the supersofts then the mediums. Altogether, a resounding start to a circuit that suits the Silver Arrows perfectly.

Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:23.162, P2; FP2: 1:22.801, P1

“It's been a really good day. Monza is always an amazing track to drive and the fans always come out to show their support. We made good progress through our programme across the two sessions and our long run pace felt good. We split the tyre compounds between Nico and myself so we could learn as much as possible going into qualifying and the race and we're looking quite strong. We've still got some work to do this evening to analyse all the data and prepare the car but I'm confident we can take the fight to the rest of the grid.”

Nico Rosberg - FP1: 1:22.959, P1; FP2: 1:22.994, P2

“The car felt pretty good during P1 but we need to work on the balance of the car overnight as the one lap pace didn't feel 100 percent during P2. We also need to analyse the data from running all three tyres across the two sessions. Still, it's great to be back here at Monza, the tifosi always come out in force to show their support and it's great news that we'll be coming back here for at least the next three years.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“It's been a fine, sunny day here at Monza and a large, enthusiastic crowd turned out in support along with the traditional excited Italian commentary in the background as a quick lap was posted. We ran a fairly normal programme apart from the insertion of the Pirelli test tyre at the start of P1. Otherwise, running soft and super soft during P1 and a split across the two drivers in P2. Doing this allowed us to collate data on all three compounds at low and high fuel. We didn't encounter any problems with either car but we'll need to address the balance on both ahead of qualifying tomorrow.”

Sauber

Ericsson said he’d had a positive day, working to hone the latest aero package, but Nasr’s running in both sessions was interrupted by engine issues.

Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:25.853, P15; FP2: 1:24.981, P15

“It was a good Friday. We tried all the different compounds - medium, soft and supersoft - and got some data on low as well as high-fuel runs. We continued to work on our aero package that we introduced in Spa. All in all it was a positive day during which we gathered interesting information.”

Felipe Nasr - FP1: 1:26.439, P19; FP2: 1:25.643, P21

“It was again another useful Friday. In the morning we focused on further analysis on the aero package. Thus, FP1 was dedicated to a lot of work on the aerodynamic side of the car. Later on in the afternoon we were able to do short and long-runs on different tyre compounds. It is positive that we were also able to do a race simulation. I feel we still have some work to do for the rest of the weekend, but overall it was a good Friday.”

Ferrari

Both drivers ran the upgraded engine all day, and after all the usual caveats about it being a Friday, they suggested that the initial feeling here is good. Indeed they seemed to have taken a step ahead of Red Bull again, locking out third and fourth spots in both sessions - Raikkonen ahead in the morning, Vettel in the afternoon.

Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:24.047, P3; FP2: 1:23.427, P4

“The morning ran smoothly and the first practice session was pretty good. The second one was a bit messy with the new tires and the yellow flags, but overall it was not too bad and the car was feeling ok. Obviously there are things to improve, but we started the weekend pretty ok. The new engine is a small step, it's part of the normal progress, we would not put in the car anything that wouldn't improve our performance. We try to improve in all areas and I think we are going in the right direction. The atmosphere here in Monza is always very nice, there are a lot of fans and the feeling is good, then we have to do well on the circuit.”

Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:24.307, P4; FP2: 1:23.254, P3

“It's Friday after all, which means it's not the most important part of the weekend, even if it's important that we ran and that we had a decent speed. In general the car feels good, but we still need to improve from where we are, we need to make it feel good in every corner and bring it together; but other than that, the first impression is positive. We have a new engine, so I think it's doing what it is supposed to do. Obviously on Friday you try a lot of different things, so we need to wait until tomorrow and Sunday to see where we are. Now we need to improve the car, focusing on ourselves. It's really good news that Monza will stay for another three years. We need this track in the calendar, it's fantastic. Monza means history, tradition, racing...”

Red Bull

This was always going to be the toughest track for Red Bull, despite a lot of optimistic pre-race talk of the Renault engine (last upgraded as long ago as Monaco) now being a match for Ferrari. Verstappen and Ricciardo said they were happy with the RB12’s balance and the direction they were going in for Saturday, and the Dutchman thinks things at the very top will tighten up more then. Realistically, however, they don’t expect to beat either Mercedes or Ferrari on pace here.

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:24.982, P8; FP2: 1:23.732, P5

“It was a good day on track. 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, but 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. For the moment we are a little bit too far behind Mercedes, but if we get everything sorted for tomorrow, we can get closer. They definitely look very strong. Difficult to say what tomorrow brings, it will for sure be tougher than Spa and I think you can clearly see that, but we’ll do our best.”

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:25.120, P10; FP2: 1:24.003, P6

“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. I expect Mercedes to lock out the front row and Ferrari look like the next best. Fifth and sixth for now is not too bad and gives us plenty to work on for tomorrow. Monza is a very high speed circuit so if you have the right race car you have the opportunity to overtake. Even if you’re a little bit down on top speed you can get a good slipstream and use DRS to make a pass. Looking at strategy here in the past it has typically been a one stop race so that limits the options and even in today’s heat the tyres lasted well so I can’t see that changing for now. Max did a fairly long stint on the supersofts and the result looked good.”

McLaren

Alonso had a gearbox problem due to a loose connector at the end of FP1 and missed some of FP2 while it was being rectified, but overall this was a promising start for the team with the Spaniard an encouraging seventh and Button 10th. The team don't necessarily expect to replicate that in qualifying, but even so their pace is a clear sign of how far they and Honda have improved in 2016.

Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:25.507, P13; FP2: 1:24.259, P7

"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.

"It was a positive day. We need to go away and look at what we've tested today – we ran some interesting prototype parts that are being evaluated for the future – but we're reasonably happy. 

"We didn't expect to get both cars into the top 10 at a high-speed track like this, but we need to keep our feet on the ground as we know that we tend to slip back a little on Saturday afternoons. 

"We wouldn't realistically expect to get into Q3 tomorrow; so, if we do, it'll be a nice surprise."

Jenson Button - FP1: 1:25.351, P11; FP2: 1:24.549, P10

"The halo trial this morning was okay – there were no major issues with it. Perhaps it could be a little more difficult to see the lights on the start-line and in the pit-stops, but there are still so many possibilities to move things around. It feels a little strange: at 200mph, instead of focusing on the next corner, you're focusing on something dead ahead of your eyes – which can make you a little cross-eyed. 

"It could be possible to get into Q3 tomorrow: we didn't do anything different today to what we normally do on a Friday, so it's definitely possible. The car's working reasonably well – I'm pretty happy. Long-run pace still needs some work if we're to fight for points, but if we can get on top of it, we should be looking all right."

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director 

"It's always a fantastic feeling to be here in Italy in late summer, and at Monza – one of the greatest and most historic racetracks in the world. 

"Both drivers enjoyed a relatively smooth day – Fernando had a small hydraulic leak right at the end of FP1, which minimally impacted on the start of his afternoon programme. Then he had a minor clutch issue once the car had been rebuilt and sent back out on the track – but both were routinely resolved. 

"It was interesting to get the opportunity to test the halo for the first time. We ran it on Jenson's car, for a short run at the start of FP1, and, aside from a couple of minor observations, he didn't report any drawbacks with it. As we know, it's still in development, and McLaren will play its role in providing feedback to the FIA and the Technical Working Group as it's refined ahead of its introduction in 2018."

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

"Both of today's free practice sessions were very busy, focusing on matching the balance of the car with the low downforce set-up and the power unit, and adapting to the fast circuit of Monza. 

"On the final lap of FP1, Fernando's gears would not engage due to a hydraulic leak on a connector. We replaced this small part between the two free practice sessions, and, owing to the swift work of the mechanics, we were able to get him out for another busy running session in FP2 with only a slight delay.  

"As it is with every Friday, it is hard to determine our performance in comparison to other teams, but it was a good sign to be able to stay within the middle of the pack on this power circuit. We gathered lots of information today, so we will work hard to analyse and apply to the power unit for tomorrow's final practice session and qualifying."

Manor

The two drivers pushed one another very hard and were close all the way through, even though Ocon lost a lot of track time after his car ground to a halt partway through FP2. One lap pace remains the major issue - which means plenty of homework overnight.

Pascal Wehrlein - FP1: 1:26.762, P20; FP2: 1:25.083, P16

"Monza is a very different track to Spa, so we were testing different aero parts on the car this morning to find solutions. We did improve in this afternoon session, which I am happy about.

"There is still a lot of work to do as we are not yet where we want to be, especially for Monza, but there is more potential in the car and we can work on that tomorrow."

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:26.391, P18; FP2: 1:25.275, P18

"Overall it was a pretty good day, except at the end. Sometimes you get problems, but I'm pretty happy with the pace. We have to keep working that way, with one more practice tomorrow.

"We couldn't do the long runs but we managed to do the short runs, which is good preparation to our qualifying. I'm feeling positive. I'd like to think we can be in a good position tomorrow."

Dave Ryan, Racing Director

"Not bad for a Friday, I guess, but I think it's fair to say we need to extract a bit more one-lap performance from the car for qualifying tomorrow if we are going to feature in Q2, which is certainly our goal for this event.

"Both Pascal and Esteban did a great job today, so no worries there whatsoever. It's just a case of getting a bit more out of the car, but after all the work the guys put in today we know where we have to be stronger. Let's see what the engineers come up with overnight and take it from there.

"Other than that, it's a fairly normal Friday evening for us. Both cars are having scheduled engine changes with the only thing out of the ordinary being the investigation work taking place on the electrical systems on Esteban's car as a result of him stopping out on the circuit early in FP2. I'm confident that will be resolved easily enough so, all in all, reasonably comfortable with today's effort."

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“We thought that Belgium was hot, but the track temperatures we saw today were even hotter: peaking at 46 degrees centigrade. This will have an effect on tyres, but we have to see what conditions will be like for the remainder of the weekend. Traditionally, a one-stopper has been the winning strategy, but this year we’re introducing the supersoft to Monza for the first time. How that tyre - which is about half a second faster than the soft so far - could perform in the race as part of the overall strategy was a big focus of the work in free practice today.”