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What the teams said - practice in Italy

01 Sep 2017

A round-up of the opening day's events from the Formula 1 Gran Premio Heineken d'Italia 2017 in Monza...
Mercedes

Bottas said that he felt he had got off to a better start than he did last weekend in Belgium, once his crew had changed his initial set-up slightly for FP2. Hamilton was very happy with the way things had gone on a trouble-free day, with his car nicely balanced. Both expect Ferrari to be in the fight, and as he hunts a record 69th pole, the Englishman said he anticipates a repeat of Spa in terms of closeness.

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:21.972, P2; FP2: 1:21.406, P1

“First of all it was nice that it stayed dry today because all the forecasts said that the rain could affect the running and we could have limited running before qualifying and the race in the dry. But we got our full plan done. In FP1 we were actually ahead of the plan because we were still worried about the weather. I think it was a good day - at least I have a better feeling than I had after the Friday in Spa, everything started on the right foot. Initially in FP1 we went slightly in the wrong direction with the setup, but we managed to change it around for FP2 and the car felt a lot better. Overall, it was a positive day, the car is looking strong, but obviously it's the next two days that count.”

Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:21.537, P1; FP2: 1:21.462, P2

“It's been a good day, a clean day. We got the running done, we got through our programme with no problems. The car seems nicely balanced here. We just have some work to do to eke out a little bit more performance. It looks quite close between us and the Ferraris, so I anticipate it's going to be similar to the last race in that sense.”

James Allison, Technical Director

“It was a slightly unusual Friday because the forecasts were quite pessimistic about the rain - overly pessimistic as it turned out. It meant that we put quite a bit of what we would normally do in the afternoon into the morning session. Considering the slightly unusual nature of the day, we're quite pleased with the way it's worked out. Both drivers looked fairly competitive on both the long runs and the short runs. It's a very unusual circuit with unique downforce levels, but we looked to be in ok shape. There is a threat of rain for tomorrow, so all bets might be off for what we learned today, but it will be a dry race. So looking strong in the dry today is a good sign.”

Ferrari

Though Ferrari were only 0.140s off Mercedes’ pace in FP2 on the occasion of their 70th anniversary celebrations, Vettel said he lacked confidence in his SF70H’s braking, stability and balance in low-downforce trim, and that there is thus work to be done tonight to improve it. Raikkonen echoed his sentiments and said his car was not easy to drive.

Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:22.652, P3; FP2: 1:21.546, P3

“Today has been a mixed day and I hope tomorrow is going to be better. This afternoon for the first part of the session we mostly used Soft tires, but I am not entirely happy because we had a mixed run with a lot of traffic and the Virtual Safety Car period. So it hasn’t been the ideal day you are normally looking for, but I guess it was the same for everyone. Overall, we should have enough data to go through now. If we can improve a couple of things tomorrow, then it should be better. Mercedes has been strong here during the last couple of years but we focus on ourselves. We try to improve the car because there’s still a little bit missing and then we’ll start from there.”

Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:22.689, P9; FP2: 1:21.804, P4

“It was not an easy day: for whatever reason, it was difficult to drive and put the car where I wanted. I was looking for a better balance overall. For sure we have some work to do for tomorrow, but that’s a normal story on Friday. It’s difficult to say something about the performance; it’s only the first free practice, lap times don’t mean much and we don’t know what other people are doing. If we can get the car more to our liking, then we can improve and be faster.”

Red Bull

Red Bull’s grid positions will ultimately be academic as Verstappen has a 15-place penalty and Ricciardo 20, both for the use of additional power unit elements. As expected, though, they were fifth and sixth, not able to challenge Mercedes or Ferrari, but looking comfortable ahead of the McLarens and Force Indias.

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:22.749, P6; FP2: 1:22.409, P5

“We are more or less where we expected to be with the car today. It is hard for us on this track with the long straights which we have to combine with a very low-downforce setting so we just try to make the best of it. We will start the race a bit further back with the penalties but hopefully I can enjoy overtaking a good number of cars on Sunday. It makes sense to take the penalties here as this track is already not that good for us, Singapore is better for our car so we don’t want to risk anything there.”

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:22.742, P5; FP2: 1:22.752, P6

“We were pretty competitive in those conditions today. We’ll make some minor adjustments tonight but generally the car feels quite good here. If it’s wet tomorrow we’ll probably try everything and see if we have a chance for a pole position. If it’s dry we’ll have to assess further, because even if I’m pole position I’ll probably start at the back. Even though I’ve got the penalty I’m actually excited for tomorrow and the race on Sunday, knowing we’ll start at the back we have a chance to have a fun race. Of course it’s disappointing knowing that the chance of a Monza podium is unlikely, but the chance of a fun race is there. I expected this a few races ago so at least I was prepared, however I’m excited for the chance to pass a few people on Sunday.”

McLaren

An encouraging day for McLaren as they ended up P7 and P8 in FP2. Vandoorne had a troublefree day, but Alonso complained of a few minor issues which were eventually ironed out. The Spaniard, however, has 35 grid penalties for his seventh ICE, ninth MGU-H, seventh MGU-K, ninth turbo, fifth energy store and fifth control electronics.

Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:24.015, P15; FP2: 1:22.968, P8

“Today has been a very positive day, with a good feeling in both sessions. We did find some performance here, which was a little bit unexpected because coming to such an unfavourable circuit for us we weren’t hoping much, but we have both cars in the top 10 and this is very good. 

“We’ve tried some interesting things and there’s been some good learning, and hopefully tomorrow we can put more into qualifying and repeat the result, even though it will be more difficult. 

“Stoffel helped me in Spa, when he had penalties, and here I’m starting last due to penalties again, so I will try to help him as much as I can by doing some towing, and hopefully put him in the best position for Sunday.”

Stoffel Vandoorne - FP1: 1:23.465, P9; FP2: 1:22.947, P7

“It’s been a bit of a surprising Friday for us as a team. To be inside the top 10 with both cars has been a very positive start to the weekend, especially on a track like Monza where we know the engine deficit plays a very big role. I think it’s been a very positive Friday but, as we can see, the lap-times are very close behind us, so we need to keep working – to keep fighting for every tenth, hundredth, thousandth we can find – because it’s easy to lose a lot of places here. 

“We would be extremely happy if we can carry forward today’s performance into tomorrow, but I think we might go backwards a little bit as the others probably have a bit extra in hand with engine modes. But we just need to benefit from others’ mistakes, really focus on our own performance, and hopefully we can carry this momentum through to tomorrow. 

“The weather forecast doesn’t really worry me. So far today has been dry – I haven’t yet seen the weather forecast for the rest of the weekend – but we’ll see what happens and you never know how it will affect our running.”

Eric Boullier, Racing director

“Today’s been encouragingly productive for the team, as we’ve managed to complete important tests and cover our scheduled programmes for the day. The mechanics worked really hard to change Fernando’s engine between sessions, and for that I’d like to thank them for yet another day of hard work at the track, and for the speed at which they managed to complete it.

“Both sides of the garage have had a solid day’s running, and we were able to conduct some useful towing practice ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session. On a track so notoriously fast and power-hungry as Monza, we have to utilise every tool we have in our armoury tomorrow to give ourselves the best chance on the grid for Sunday. There are other cars that will also be out of position due to penalties, so it’s all to play for.

“Unseasonal rain had been threatening all morning, but this afternoon we enjoyed more typical Italian sunshine, with higher track temperatures and dry running allowing us to gather important data ahead of Sunday’s race. We were able to shift our attention to longer running at the end of FP2 – despite a brief Virtual Safety Car period – and also complete the usual pitstop practice, so overall I’m pleased with what we’ve done today and I hope we can translate that into a positive day tomorrow.”

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

“Despite the unstable weather conditions today, especially this morning, we were able to run through our practice programme as planned.

“We brought an updated PU to Italy this weekend, which Fernando ran in FP1. Although we will receive a penalty for the race on Sunday, it was important for us to introduce this new update as soon as possible, and to test its performance on track. I can confirm that we saw a positive result in the performance as expected.

“Fernando’s PU was switched out before FP2, and he will run the remainder of the weekend with his Belgium race PU. I would like to thank the team for their hard work to get Fernando back out on track so quickly.

“Stoffel also ran through his programme as planned and finished the day seventh quickest overall, which was a very good start to his weekend.

“Although the power-hungry nature of this track means we’ll no doubt have another tough grand prix, we’ll continue to prepare and push for Q3 in qualifying tomorrow.”

Force India

Having buried the hatchet yesterday, following their two collisions at Spa, Perez and Ocon managed to avoid each other today and both were quick. With Red Bull having grid penalties on both cars, Force India have an excellent chance to score big points on a track that favours Mercedes’ V6 power units.

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:23.317, P7; FP2: 1:23.352, P14

“It’s been a busy day and I feel quite happy heading into the weekend. We expected to lose some track time due to the rain, but it didn’t hit us so we were able to maximise our mileage. We collected some important information to help us set the car up for tomorrow. I wasn’t as happy with the car balance during the afternoon session, but we have enough data to look into the issue and understand how to fix it overnight.”

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:23.400, P8; FP2: 1:22.977, P9

“It was a solid day of practice. We were testing a lot of different things and I think we came away with some very good data at the end of the day. I am pretty happy with how things went and the work we completed – we will need to do the same tomorrow in the final practice session before qualifying. There was a lot of track evolution as the day progressed: the main straight, in particular, has been resurfaced and the practice starts felt a bit slippery. It started raining at one point, but it didn’t last long so it didn’t really influence our day.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

“It’s been a pretty standard day and the weather was kind to us in the end, despite the prediction of thunderstorms. Right from the start, both drivers were quite happy with the baseline balance of the car, which allowed us to move through our test programme. We did some work to evaluate the different rear wing levels, which is something we always do here in Monza, and also to understand the tyre compounds we will be racing. Esteban was happier about his car than Sergio this afternoon, so we will need to look into the reasons for this and see how we can improve ahead of qualifying. There is still some work to do because we have seen the margins between cars will be very small. We have a solid base to build on, but a few tenths more or less will mean a big swing in terms of grid position, and we need to be ready for a very competitive Saturday.”

Williams

Massa had a decent first day in which he completed the top 10 in both sessions and tried revised bodywork and wings. Stroll wasn’t far off, but marred his day with a spin at Ascari in FP2 which flat-spotted his supersoft tyres and obliged him to do his race run work on softs.

Felipe Massa - FP1: 1:23.561, P10; FP2: 1:22.985, P10

“It was a much better Friday than we’ve had in the last few races, so I’m really optimistic that the car can be more competitive here in Monza compared with how it was in the last races. We tried some different bodywork options and different wings plus we managed a lot of laps on the tyres so I really hope everything comes together to have a much better weekend.”

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:23.991, P13; FP2: 1:23.403, P15

“Today we were much more competitive, and it looks much better this weekend than in the past events. I had a good day on my side, but spun on my good lap in FP2, which was a bit frustrating, and I didn’t get to put my lap time on the board with the supersofts. However, everything is feeling good and hopefully we will say the same tomorrow. I think we can be very close to Q3, if not in it, so we just have to make sure everything works out and we will see what happens.”

Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer

“We managed to run our whole programme in FP1 and FP2 without any issues, running a number of different aerodynamic configurations, with both drivers pretty happy with the balance of the car. Quite quickly, Lance was familiar with this track. So the pace for both drivers looks to be in reasonable shape for qualifying and the race. It’s going to be an interesting qualifying as it always is at Monza. Lance flat spotted his supersoft tyre in FP2 so he couldn’t do his long run on that tyre, concentrating on the soft instead, but apart from that everything was normal. We’ve had some difficult Fridays in the last few races so it’s nice to get one where things have gone to plan.”

Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso had a tough day, with Sainz spinning in FP1 and suffering what appeared to be an engine failure. Kvyat also had to stop prematurely in the afternoon. Worse still, Sainz has a 10-place grid penalty for using his fifth MGU-h of the season.

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:23.680, P11; FP2: 1:23.150, P11

“Not the birthday I wished for! I knew since yesterday that we were going to get a grid penalty for changing part of the Power Unit, so that wasn’t a surprise, but today’s PU issue is definitely not something we welcome! This didn’t allow us to complete our programme and we know that we’re up for a very difficult weekend here in Monza. We will of course keep our chin up and keep pushing – I have to say I’m feeling good in the car, it’s very light as we are running very low downforce to try and compensate our engine deficit… It’s tricky out there, but at least I’m enjoying it and hopefully we can extract the maximum out of the car tomorrow and on Sunday.”

Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:24.012, P14; FP2: 1:24.253, P18

“Not a good Friday. I didn’t feel comfortable in the car today and nothing really worked as well as it should have. We now need to review everything overnight, understand the reason for this and hopefully find a better solution for tomorrow.”

Jody Egginton, Head of Vehicle Performance

“With a risk of rain present heading into FP1, we were keen to cover the primary mechanical and aero test items and then set the normal baseline in the first 40 minutes without disruption and we did manage to achieve this. Carlos also installed with the Halo fitted, providing useful data and a further reference point for the driver. As is normal in Monza, the lower downforce level provides the drivers and engineers with a challenge in terms of optimising the set up and, as such, there were some of the typical balance issues to address with the second tyre set in order to have a better view of required changes for FP2. Set up diverged slightly for FP2 in order to allow assessment of a few more items. Carlos was able to find a reasonable balance and set representative times on both compounds, although unfortunately his day was ended early with what appears to be a Power Unit failure. Daniil was less happy with the balance of his car early on in the session, so a further set up change was evaluated before he switched to longer runs. However, we also had to end this run slightly early due to a potential reliability issue. Frustratingly, we have not been able to gather a lot of tyre data from the long runs today and in the case of Daniil we also have some further work to do to optimise his set up. However, on the flip side, with Carlos we have managed to move forwards with the set up so our challenge tonight is to bring all of this together ahead of FP3, for us to catch up on the lost running today, with both cars.”

Renault

Renault had a relatively quiet day, with Palmer enjoying reliability but Hulkenberg having a few set-up issues. Both however expressed themselves unhappy with their current level of competitiveness.

Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:24.542, P17; FP2: 1:23.272, P12

“We had a pretty standard Friday. The balance felt good but we have the usual challenges of Monza, top speed isn’t our strength so we need to see how we can address that for Saturday and Sunday.”

Jolyon Palmer - FP1: 1:25.166, P18; FP2: 1:23.317, P13

“Overall the car feels okay, though we were not yet as competitive as we’d like to be. We knew Monza wasn’t going to be the easiest track for us, having said that, we know there is still more to come from the car. We did lose some running time this morning following a puncture on one set of tyres, but we managed to catch most of it back up during FP2 this afternoon.”

Bob Bell, Chief Technical Officer

“A pretty straightforward day today. Although we managed to get all the information we needed, as a precautionary measure, we ended Nico’s FP2 session early due to a minor issue related to the hydraulic system. Jolyon generally had a good day but lost some time in the morning when he had an air leak from his tyre. Both drivers were generally happy with balance of their cars. We are positive we can put on a good show for qualifying and for the race.”

Haas

Grosjean and Magnussen were evenly matched, but the Dane lost time towards the end of FP2 when his car suffered a suspension failure in the second Lesmo and rolled to a halt at Ascari once he had applied lightning reactions to keep the thing going straight.

Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:24.079, P16; FP2: 1:23.567, P16

“I don’t think we should read too much into lap times, to be fair. This morning was very, very tight, and it was again this afternoon. Half a second would put us to P7, or so. Competition-wise, I’m not too worried. There are a few things we want to do on the car. The long run felt OK. We’ll try to make some magic tonight. I think, generally, it was a pretty good day.”

Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:23.973, P12; FP2: 1:23.650, P17

“We have something to understand about the tyres. It seems like we’re not in the right window. We’ll try and work hard overnight and see if we can find a solution. The balance in the car isn’t too bad. It’s just a case of putting it all together.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“An exciting Friday, to say the least. It started off with us deciding to put Kevin (Magnussen) in the car instead of Antonio (Giovinazzi) because of the weather situation. It was showing that the only dry session would be FP1, which in the end it didn’t work out like this because FP2 was dry as well. But, at that time, that was our best knowledge and we had to make the decision to get Kevin some dry running. That was quite intense for everybody to get everything swapped over. Then we just went through our program. In the middle of FP2 we had a rear suspension failure on Kevin’s car. We’re now investigating what happened. We’ll find out what it was and go from there. Again, we got a lot of data because up to then we had good information and got a lot of laps. We’ll work on the data overnight, get ready for tomorrow and go for a good qualifying.”

Sauber

As expected with their 2016 Ferrari motors, both Saubers struggled at the back of the field. Rain looks to be their only hope of competitiveness.

Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:25.687, P20; FP2: 1:24.894, P19

“Overall, today has been a decent day for us. We tested various aerodynamic configurations and focused on scanning through different downforce levels. We managed to work through our planned programme today, which was positive, and are now looking at our data to find the best possible setup for this unique Monza track.”

Pascal Wehrlein - FP1: 1:25.223, P19; FP2: 1:25.295, P18

“The day started out quite positively. In the morning, I felt comfortable in the car and was able to complete some decent laps during the session. In FP2, I was not fully comfortable with the balance of the car. We are looking at our data now, and trying to optimise the setup for tomorrow. Overall, it is good that we completed our programme, and I look forward to the rest of the weekend.”

Pirelli

Mario Isola - Head of Car Racing

“As we expected, there’s not been a significant increase in overall speeds at Monza, as the new 2017 regulations accentuate cornering performance rather than top speed, and this circuit is most about the straights. However, the fastest time in FP2 was still nearly a second a half faster than the equivalent session last year, using the same tyre compounds. Initial indications suggest that this could be a one-stop race, with only a small difference between the compounds leading to quite a wide pit stop window.”