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What the teams said – practice in Italy

31 Aug 2018

A round-up of the opening day's events from the Formula 1 Gran Premio Heineken D'Italia 2018 at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza...


Ferrari had momentum in their corner heading into their home race, and continued where they left off in Spa. Vettel led his team mate home in FP2, comfortably the quickest team. It wasn't all plain sailing for Vettel however, a gearbox change limiting his running in FP1 before the German lost the rear of his car heading into Parabolica in second practice. One slide through the gravel and a brush with the barriers later, he was fortunate to escape with no significant damage.

Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:37.867, P17; FP2: 1:21.105, P1

“Today it’s been a mixed day, as the morning session didn’t go smoothly, but in the afternoon it got better. The balance of the car is not perfect yet, but I believe we can work on it for tomorrow as the car seems to be working well. This morning we had a little problem with the car; I wanted to run, but we had to check the gearbox first. However, it was good we could run in the afternoon. In P2 I slid off at Parabolica, but I managed to avoid touching the barrier, but I had just one slight nudge and came away with minor damage to the rear wing which had to be replaced. Apart from that, the car was fine. I am not entirely happy yet, but I know we can still improve because our car has big potential. I think we can do better tomorrow as the package is good, so we’ll see. We’ll keep doing our homework”.

Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:34.550, P2; FP2: 1:21.375, P2

“This morning the session was held in the wet and we could only do a little running, but in the second practice, track conditions were back to normal. The conditions were the same for everybody, we cannot change the weather; I think that in the end we were quite lucky to have at least one session in the dry. Both compounds were ok, but obviously we did not do much mileage today. We are on yet another different track, so we obviously had some things to fine tune today, but it was not too bad for the first laps . Now we need to go through things and try to improve a bit for tomorrow”.


Mercedes didn't run on the drying track at the end of FP1 and thus ended up down the field. Come FP2 and the times were more representative, with the Silver Arrows lagging behind their Ferrari rivals. Hamilton was at least close, within three tenths but Bottas couldn't keep pace with his team mate. There is work to do tomorrow if Mercedes want a fifth straight Monza pole...

Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:36.546, P11; FP2: 1:21.392, P3

"We woke up to torrential rain this morning, which meant it was a less busy first session than normal. We did a few laps but after that it was like having a day in the office when you don't have too much work to do - I was even snoozing in the car at one point! But we did plenty of laps this afternoon in the dry and we could see that, like in Spa, we had a small gap to Ferrari on both the short and the long runs. My laps felt pretty good, but Ferrari was a little bit quicker today. We're all working flat out right now in every part of the team, and we have work to do tonight as well - but there are some areas where we can see deficits, so I hope we can make a little step for qualifying. It has been a big battle for a number of races now, and they have had a small advantage since the middle of the summer, but we are pushing as hard as we can to overcome that. Although we are on Ferrari's home turf, we have some great support out there and it's always a boost to see that in the grandstands. It will be a very close fight tomorrow and, like every race weekend, we will be giving it everything we've got."

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:36.238, P10; FP2: 1:21.803, P4

"The conditions out there were quite mixed today with heavy rain in the morning and a dry afternoon. We did only one run in the morning on the Intermediate tyres; Monza is a tricky place in the wet as it is difficult to find the right braking points. We seemed competitive in the wet compared to the cars who were out in similar conditions. Luckily the afternoon was dry and we could get some proper running in; the long runs were especially important as the race is expected to be dry. As expected, Ferrari seemed very quick in the dry. It's not going to be easy, but we still have a few things we can improve for qualifying. Compared to Spa, the car felt better in the slow corners which is a good step in the right direction. The weather forecast for tomorrow is not entirely conclusive, so we need to be prepared for everything and get a lot of running done in FP3 no matter if it's wet or dry."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"There's not a lot to say about the first session, the car worked nicely in the wet conditions but once the drivers had a feel for the balance we stopped and saved engine mileage for the dry. The afternoon was a busy programme, made a bit busier by the early red flag. We were relieved to see that Marcus was ok but once the session got going again there wasn't time to do all the running we had intended. The cars ran faultlessly and we have been able to collect good data from the session on low and high fuel. We've not had the normal amount of time to tune the car, so tonight we'll be looking at what we can do to find a bit more speed. The track is going to be different for qualifying and the race, we may even see another wet qualifying so we'll prepare for all eventualities and hopefully we can give Ferrari a tough time. "

Red Bull

Ricciardo knew he would be starting from the back of the grid come Sunday thanks to engine penalties, but worse was to come when he lost power on his first out-lap in FP1. He crawled back to the pits and fortunately the gremlin was easily corrected so he was able to get some running in. Verstappen caused a heart-in-mouth moment himself, sliding on the slippery track before coolly telling his pit wall he was just having a "little drift."

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:35.207, P5; FP2: 1:22.296, P6

“We looked more competitive on the long runs this afternoon but on the short runs Ferrari were really fast and we also still have a big gap to Mercedes. We definitely closed the gap on the long runs which is promising for the race, but there is still a bit to find. I used the new C-Spec engine for the first time which seemed to run ok. We won’t really know how well it performed until we look at the data but this afternoon we did some decent running with it and hopefully it shows some good numbers. Tomorrow I probably won’t do much running and it’s possible I will skip Qualifying as I’m going to be starting at the back anyway. I think on Sunday we will have a good enough car to come through the field and then work on the best position in the top five. To be honest, it’s just good to see that Marcus is ok because that was a big one and a worry for us all. He had a far tougher day than me.”

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:35.665, P7; FP2: 1:22.154, P5

“It was alright today, the same conditions for everyone. Luckily we had a dry second practice where we could try a few things. In Qualifying with dry conditions, I think we are too slow, but on the long runs it looks more positive. If it’s going to be enough to really fight, I don’t think so. From the car perspective the behaviour was good so of course I’m happy with that. But this is definitely the worst track for us, I don’t expect any miracles and we will try to make the best of it. I don’t think it’s necessary to go with a different tyre strategy tomorrow as both compounds behaved really well. I don’t expect any problems there and we will just have to try to have the best Qualifying possible. I don’t know yet whether we will use the C-Spec engine tomorrow, we will decide that overnight when we have looked at the data. We just have to keep pushing and try to improve our car and then we will see where we are.”


Haas had a solid if unspectacular day, with both drivers on the cusp of the top 10 in FP2. They lagged behind their rivals last Friday but turned things around come qualifying - can they do the same here this weekend, and grab a couple of spots in Q3?

Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:37.683, P15; FP2: 1:23.077, P11

“It’s been a fairly good day. It was wet in the morning, dry in the afternoon. I was quite pleased with how the car went in the afternoon, on both low fuel and high fuel. That was good. The team did a good job setting up the car before we got here. We did a few bits and pieces adjusting the setup but, really, the car felt good. With a wet morning and the red flag in FP2 – where I was glad to see Marcus (Ericsson) walk out of the car after a big shunt – we ran our program as we could. We lost a bit of track time, but we’ve managed to do everything we wanted.”

Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:37.066, P13; FP2: 1:23.233, P13

“It wasn’t too bad. FP1 was obviously wet, but we still got some running in those conditions, which was good to get a feeling of that. It looks like it’s going to be dry tomorrow, at least that’s what the weather forecast looks like. In FP2 we got a bit of dry running to prepare for that. The car felt ok. I think there’s some work to do for low-fuel running, but the high fuel looked ok. So, we’ve got some setup work to do, as always, and we’ve got to look at getting the tyres to work properly, and getting the balance right in the car. It’s all normal stuff, nothing spectacular. We should be ok.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“As FP1 was rained out for the most part, we had to do some more work in FP2. We recovered very well. We got all the data we needed for tomorrow to continue in FP3, to then get ready for qualifying. So, losing FP1 was not a big deal, and it was good for us, as well, because we have very little experience on wet surfaces. To get the drivers out on intermediates and try to learn a little bit, it was quite helpful. I think we’re ready for tomorrow.”


Norris sat in for Vandoorne in FP1 but, given the conditions, couldn't give a full account of himself. In second practice, both McLarens stayed in the garage for much of the session, going through scheduled set-up changes. Once on track, they appeared to lack pace, propping up the field despite practising the tow.

Fernando Alonso - FP2: 1:37.426, P14; FP2: 1:23.741, P18

“It was a strange day today, with the rain in the first session and Marcus’ [Ericsson] accident in the second – thank God he’s okay – so, like everyone else, we lost some track time. We missed a couple of runs that we had programmed, including some long runs, so we will try to make up for this tomorrow and get that information.

“I think we more or less confirmed today that it’s going to be a tough weekend for us as a team in terms of performance, and we’ll try to do a better job tomorrow.

“After Sunday’s accident, I still sometimes feel some pain in my hand and my back in some corners, so when I’m out of the car I try not to stress them too much. I think on Sunday it’s going to be perfectly okay.

“Last, but not least, a big well done to the FIA, who have done an amazing job over the years to improve safety.” 

Stoffel Vandoorne - FP2: 1:24.084, P19

“Even though I didn’t do FP1 I don’t think I missed a huge amount with the weather conditions. FP2 was dry and a much more normal session than the morning apart from Marcus’ (Ericsson) crash at the start.

“I don’t think there will be any miracles for us here this weekend, we’ve expected it to be difficult and I think practice has already confirmed that it’s going to be tough for us. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.

“I like this track, I have some good history here in different series that I’ve raced in before, so I usually enjoy coming here and racing.”

Lando Norris - FP1: 1:38.282, P20

“I had some fun today of course, although I didn’t get as much running as I would’ve liked. That happens sometimes and in the end, I was happy anyway. I saw what to experience on a race weekend and again what it’s like to compare to Fernando, which is something pretty good for me. 

“It would have been nice to get a dry track – or for it to be completely wet for longer, to get used to driving this car in the wet, which I enjoy quite a bit. 

“It was still a good session for us, although there weren’t many laps completed. We did some aero tests – some for his year, some for next. We tried as many things as we could without compromising anything for this weekend. 

“The team learned quite a bit of stuff today, and of course I learned a lot too.”

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director

“Despite very unfamiliar conditions for Lando in a Formula 1 car, he once again acclimatised himself very quickly and produced a sound, error-free performance in FP1. 

“Following Belgium, we came into this weekend expecting this circuit to again expose some of our weaknesses. Today’s result confirmed this expectation. 

“Regardless, we completed a variety of tests to try and shed further light on our cars’ performance. The chances of weather interfering in tomorrow’s proceedings once again are high, hence we can expect a very exciting qualifying session.” 

Force India

Perez topped FP1 in some style, making the most of a drying track to produce an error-free lap when it mattered. Indeed it was a solid day all round for the team, with Ocon also quick and both drivers solidly in the top 10 in FP2. They look assured of a fourth row lock-out, but can they spring another surprise and upset the big three tomorrow?

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:34.000, P1; FP2: 1:22.942, P8

“It was a good day and I am fairly confident about our performance level. Friday times don’t mean much but it’s still nice to finish the morning session as the fastest driver. In the afternoon we worked on our race set-up and we found a very good baseline. I am definitely looking forward to qualifying because we have a good chance to be the best of the rest no matter what the weather does. We were able to run on all compounds and in all conditions, so we are well prepared.”

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:34.593, P3; FP2: 1:22.930, P7

“It’s been a pretty solid day with good preparation for the weekend. Seventh and eighth in the second session shows we have strong dry pace, as well as in the wet, and I feel optimistic for tomorrow. The car has been quick all day, but there are some areas where we can improve and I think there is more to come. The second session was shorter than usual because of the red flag, but it’s the same for everybody and I think we are as well prepared as anybody.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal

“It was an interesting day in changing conditions. The weather has been quite challenging so far this week, especially with the forecast evolving throughout the day. In the end, we were able to run a full programme on intermediate tyres this morning, gathering a good amount of data on a compound we may need to use in qualifying tomorrow. FP2 was fully dry and we could focus mainly on our set-up for the race. The red flag at the beginning of the session obviously cut into our time, but we still managed to catch up and both our drivers were quite happy with the balance of the car in the end. We still have some work to do, but we’re satisfied with a solid start to the weekend. The key for tomorrow and Sunday will be to adapt to a changing environment. Tomorrow is looking cooler than Sunday, so we expect different track conditions and temperature between the two days: the challenge will be to respond to these changes in the most effective way.”


Hulkenberg was already carrying a 10-place grid drop for the race due to his misdemeanour last time out, with Renault opting to use the opportunity to take on some fresh PU components and thus the German will start from the back of the field. Sainz suffered strange vibrations towards the end of second practice, but other than that looks to be a solid top 10 contender.

Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:36.107, P9; FP2: 1:23.063, P10

“This morning we ran a little to get some data on both wet and intermediate tyres, but it was pretty standard feedback; not much to report. When it dried in the afternoon we got the chance to test out some new aero parts, which seemed to work well. Of course, we need to look through the data to get the most from the car for tomorrow, but it was a good start for now.”

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:35.995, P8; FP2: 1:23.193, P12

“In the morning it was obviously very wet, but it was good to get some laps in these conditions. The car was behaving well, as it did in the wet in Hungary. In the dry we completed the whole programme. It was a good day and now we need to look through everything to see where we can find some more time. We have tried some new parts across both cars and tomorrow we will put it all together and try to push for the top 10.”

Nick Chester, Chassis Technical Director

“The rain at the start of the first session meant we didn’t learn a great deal, but we did manage to do some mechanical work. As we have seen at other tracks when it’s been wet, the car was actually going well. In the later session we were able to do most of the normal programme, although it was slightly shortened due to the red flag at the start. We were running different wing levels on the cars and we will look at the set ups in more detail to improve our car balance for tomorrow."


Williams limited their running in an unrepresentative FP1. Come the afternoon, they focused on gathering aero data, with Sirotkin's car liberally decorated with flow-viz paint. Whether it pays dividends remains to be seen, but it looks as if getting out of Q1 will be the objective.

Sergey Sirotkin - FP1: 1.37.929, P18; FP2: 1:23.514, P15

"I think it’s been a very good Friday. We had good pace in the wet, but it’s difficult to say how we’ll be tomorrow as we don’t know what the weather will be like. Today’s shown good signs of performance. The conditions have favoured us as they haven’t been hot. I had some issues throughout my lap which we need to understand and see if we can fix or not. They cost me quite a lot of time on my best lap. Had it not been for that, I think we wouldn’t have been far from the top ten which is a good sign. It’s a good weekend."

Lance Stroll -FP1: 1:38.253, P19; FP2: 1:23.566, P17

"It looks better compared to the others, but we will see what tomorrow brings. We look a bit better now, but on Friday it is hard to know what people are doing with modes, fuel levels and that, so we will have a better idea tomorrow. We had some good running and this morning it was fun to get out in the rain for a few laps. It was short, as it was only three laps, but still it brought back some good memories from last year. I like this sort of track, as it is always fun to brake at 330 kph and get that last metre out of the braking zone. It is very challenging as you have to really build up to it and have the confidence to hit the pedal late and modulate off the pressure at the perfect time. Around Monza, we also see some nice overtaking moves, which provides a bit of a chance to gain positions in the race which is great."

Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer

"We had a biblical rain storm first thing this morning which meant we didn’t achieve too much in FP1 in the mixed conditions. We got a balance on the wet tyres and checked the rear wing in wet conditions, but all of our normal work needed to be done in FP2. We ran a regular programme but this was also condensed after Ericsson’s accident which brought out the red flag right at the beginning. We still managed to run all three tyre compounds at low fuel across the two cars, and also complete long runs on both cars. The battle to get into Q2 will be quite tight but we remain optimistic that if we do a good job overnight with the set-up and have a good FP3 session, we can get one or both cars into Q2 tomorrow. We’re very happy to see Marcus Ericsson in good shape after such a terrible accident."


Not a vintage day for the Sauber team. A DRS issue looked to have caused a big crash for Ericsson at the start of second practice, from which fortunately the Swede walked away unharmed. Leclerc was then plagued by DRS problems throughout the session, unable to manage a push lap until the closing moments. The team will have their hands full rebuilding one C37 overnight... and checking that the DRS issue is fully resolved to boot.

Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:37.790, P16; FP2: No time set

“The accident I had in FP2 was a big impact – thanks to the strength of the car I am alright. The team is already working hard to repair the car so that I can be back on track tomorrow. I look forward to driving again.”

Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:36.648, P12; FP2: 1:22.965, P9

“The day was OK. On one hand, we had quite a few issues – on the other hand, our performance was quite good if you take the challenges we faced into consideration. We have some work ahead of us now, and will do everything we can to make the necessary steps forward before we head into the next sessions. The main thing is that Marcus is well after his crash, and we will push to have a good result tomorrow.”

Fred Vasseur, Team Principal 

“First of all, I am happy to say that Marcus is well, which is the most important thing. We were able to establish the issue that caused the incident at the beginning of FP2. There was a problem with his DRS, which stayed open when he hit the brakes at Turn 1. We detected the same issue on Charles’ car shortly after that, and brought it back to the garage immediately to resolve the problem. Charles did a good job in managing the situation on track and staying focused during FP2, finishing the session in P9. This proves that we have strong potential on this track, and we are optimistic for tomorrow.”


Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso sent their cars out late in FP1 and thus reaped the rewards of running in the best of the conditions to finish solidly in the top 10. They dropped down the field in the more representative second session, with Gasly bettering his team mate by one tenth. Q3 looks a tough ask unless the weather plays a part tomorrow.

Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:35.438, P6; FP2: 1:23.402, P14

“Today was a busy day. Between the rain this morning and the afternoon being dry, we could analyse the car in both conditions. We had a positive start to the day during the rain, and this afternoon we did some good work in the long runs. Overall, we need to work and try to find more performance as the car didn’t feel too great, I think there’s room to improve for tomorrow. Hopefully there will be some rain for us which will level the playing field and make things more exciting.”

Brendon Hartley - FP1: 1:35.024, P4; FP2: 1:23.531, P16

“It was a positive Friday in Monza, I was P4 this morning in the wet and momentarily held P1 which was nice! The car performed very well in the intermediate conditions this morning, but we had a small issue with our car in FP2 which meant we sat in the garage for a long time due to some problems on the bodywork. We missed out on some running time, but I would still say it was a good day and we’re in the mix.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

“The Monza Grand Prix weekend is one of the best of the season, particularly because of the atmosphere from the Tifosi. Unfortunately, we came in this morning to a huge amount of rain, although this wasn’t enough to put the fans off who were still out in force. The rain continued throughout FP1, with the most suitable tyre being the Intermediate. We get a free one to use on a Friday which doesn’t come out of our Qualifying or Race allocation, so we were happy to do a reasonable amount of running.

"We had planned many aero and mechanical tests for today, however, we didn’t get to cover all of these due to the wet conditions. General grip was very low and the balance was tricky for both drivers, particularly on the low downforce setup we run which is unique to Monza. Having said that, we still managed to learn something in the session. FP2 remained dry as the expected rain never arrived, and we were delayed going out for the first run after Ericsson’s big crash – thankfully he was unhurt. FP2 was the normal focus on Qualifying preparation across the two tyre types followed by long runs.

"Unfortunately, we had a small issue on Brendon’s car after his first low fuel run and it took some time to fix, so he didn’t get to complete his Supersoft run until late in the session. Even if at this point others had started their high fuel simulations, we managed to find a gap in the traffic so Brendon’s Quali runs were not compromised much. It did mean though that he could not complete his long run which wasn’t ideal. However, it was a successful afternoon overall and the car is looking reasonable here, particularly since we thought this would be our most challenging race of the season.”

Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director

“First of all, we are all relieved to see that Ericsson is uninjured after his crash, which proved how strong the current F1 cars are. This morning’s session was complicated, with the track slowly drying after the very heavy rain. In the dry afternoon session, we were able to get on with our usual Friday programme, although even that time was reduced because of the red flag, but technically it all went smoothly on the PU side on this power track. There could be more rain tomorrow, so we will carefully analyse the data from both sessions to be ready for any eventuality.”


Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing​

“From the point of view of data collection, it wasn’t an easy day, as there was really only an hour or so of dry running without interruptions. This means that the teams had to adjust their strategies and compress their programmes in order to maximise that period of time, especially because conditions are expected to be quite uncertain for the rest of the weekend. On FP1, the Teams were able to work on the crossover point between wet and slick tyres, while on FP2 they do some long runs, despite the red flag period, and to understand the gap between the compounds”