Italian GP: Mercedes turn up the power during Friday practices

Jul 23, 2014
Lewis Hamilton.jpg

Ahead of yesterday's revelation that Mercedes would use all their remaining engine development tokens during the Italian Grand Prix weekend, Lewis Hamilton led both of Friday's free practice sessions, as he and teammate Nico Rosberg left all their rivals - Ferrari included - in their vapour trails at Monza.

Here's a summary of the two Friday practice sessions:

Free Practice 1

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, newly-blonde hair and all, set the benchmark in the first practice session of the day, and a blistering one at that. His best time of 1:24.670 was not only a second and a half quicker than last year's best time from this session, but one and a half seconds quicker than any of Mercedes' rivals could manage. Nico Rosberg was nearly a half-second back of Hamilton's best time, his 1:25.133 still over a second faster than Sebastian Vettel's fastest lap in the Ferrari - a 1:26.258.

The most impressive performance came from the Sahara Force India pairing of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, who finished fourth and fifth in the opening practice session, both ahead of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. The fastest Renault-engined car, the Red Bull RB11 of Daniel Ricciardo, was 2.2 seconds behind Hamilton's benchmark in seventh, ahead of the two Williams Mercedes of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, and Lotus' Pastor Maldonado completed the top ten.

Jolyon Palmer stood in for Romain Grosjean in FP1 at Lotus, and the outgoing GP2 Series champion turned in the fifteenth-fastest time. The session was interrupted by just one red flag, when Carlos Sainz spun his Toro Rosso at Parabolica and ended up beached in the gravel at the end of the run-off area.

Free Practice 2

Midway through FP2, Hamilton found another four-tenths of a second in his Mercedes W06 to finish with a best time of 1:24.279 - though Rosberg clawed to within 0.021 seconds of his World Champion teammate. Having already demonstrated overwhelming pace, Hamilton and Rosberg ended the session working on long runs, as did most of the field.

Vettel maintained his berth as "best of the rest," third by a much closer margin of seven-tenths adrift of Hamilton's best time. Hulkenberg and Perez continued Force India's remarkable early form at Monza as their Mercedes-powered cars were fastest in the speed traps at 356 km/h - but it was Perez who got the better of Hulkenberg in the afternoon by 0.047 seconds. Raikkonen held sixth, ahead of the Lotus pairing of Grosjean and Maldonado who were separated by 0.016 seconds - even closer than Hamilton and Rosberg. Valtteri Bottas in ninth, and Felipe Massa in tenth for Williams, completed the top ten.

An "anomaly" within the McLaren Honda at Jenson Button forced him to park just thirty minutes into the session, allowing both the Manor Marussias to get ahead of him by the end of the session. Max Verstappen had a wild ride through Variante Ascari, spinning off and nearly stuffing the back of his Toro Rosso into the barriers. Daniil Kvyat bizarrely spent most of the session mired down the order, and was unable to set a flying lap early on - finishing an unrepresentative 20th.

If the Mercedes pairing have still yet to realize the full pace of their fully-developed power unit today, we could see Rubens Barrichello's fastest race lap record of 1:21.046 threatened in qualifying tomorrow.

Results to follow.
Apr 2, 2015
Close between the teammates in the Mercedes, light years ahead of everyone else

Who's idea was it to allow Mercedes to be even more dominant?! :D

Meanwhile I'm rooting for either a Grosjean or Hulkenburg podium :thumbsup:

Also Hamilton is a mind reader. He knows exactly how to annoy me with stupid blond hair. I mean, why?! Jesus I hate how he is so image focused compared to everyone else. Fair enough he's allowed to do whatever he wants but i just wished he worked harder on F1 than working hard to get on Americas next top model
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Reactions: Joel

Bernd Graf

Nov 30, 2013
Is it just me or is Hamilton becoming a rap god? WTF? Class be gone...da rapper is here! Jeez.


Sep 23, 2013
Although I don't think Stevenage (Place of birth) is in da' hood I suppose he can do what he likes trying to be a rap star, tbh it does not effect his driving.

As for the total domination for Mercedes I am afraid that will be continuing until the regulations change recent history suggests that unless the FIA change the rules to negate their advantage they will always have a advantage, and well done to Mercedes they are not doing anything radically different to anyone else. They are just doing everything better.


May 26, 2014
If F1 is at the point where it's relevant to talk about drivers hair, F1 is at a bad point.


Jul 5, 2015
as long as he wins he can do what he wants. Hell he could show up in drag and play who is prettiest in the paddock.

Iain McKenzie

Jun 3, 2013
as long as he wins he can do what he wants. Hell he could show up in drag and play who is prettiest in the paddock.
I know, I don't know why some people on here are more concerned about how he looks like rather than his driving.

Cristian Haba

Nov 24, 2007
LoL yah his hair is a bit (*$%ed so what, I care more about his attitude on and off the track when he represents the sport and Mercedes.

Would it be better he did this?:confused:


Jun 4, 2013
I bet that if Rosberg had his new engine in Qualifying he would have taken pole.
Ferrari were definitely close to Hamilton though...

Nick Hill

Oct 26, 2013
Qualifying was a bit of a mixed bag for me.

On the pro side, it was great to see Ferrari split Mercedes at Monza in front of a sea of red and it was also fun to see Kimi beat out Seb (albeit by the slimmest of margins!)

On the con side, from a big picture perspective it was yet another weekend of "by how much will Hamilton take pole?" which, unless you are a die hard Hamilton and/or Merc fan, isn't likely to get your blood pumping at this point.

From the standpoint of the overall image of the sport, there were also a couple items that jumped out at me as being particularly illustrative of the difficulty of finding a balance in modern F1:

(1) They flashed previous pole times up on the TV feed going back to 2005. So, while you have the announcers going ga-ga over Hamilton dipping into the 1:23's, you see this graphic showing JPM setting a 1:21 back in 2005! The challenge there is I think we are well past the point where we can responsibly expect the cars to be faster & faster every year and still maintain safety. Honestly, I don't think we'll get back the same thrill of "how fast will they run at Monza this year?!?" until if/when electric powerplants start taking over and they start chipping away at the times previously set in combustion-based cars. That puts F1 in a tough spot to maintain excitement and an image of "the pinnacle of motorsport" while at the same time laptimes are stagnant (and even slower!)

(2) Daniel Ricciardo's interview was devastating, I thought. He flat out said he sat out Q2 because there was no point because of engine penalties - talk about a PR disaster! I have to think he and/or the team were definitely trying to prove a point. Daniel is definitely one of the drivers I really look forward to watching every week - to think he has been saddled with (non-racing related) penalties that are so harsh that he (and the team) would just say "why bother?" is very disappointing. But there again, it's not such an easy fix, because I really do sympathize with why the powers-that-be feel the engine grid penalties are necessary for keeping costs reasonable for the little guys. Honestly though, I would much rather see something implemented where if one of the big money teams replaces more than X engines in a given year, you have to dropping money into some kind of F1 general fund where the small money teams can draw from for their own engine development (in other words, come up with something that doesn't deprive the fans of watching a really exciting driver like Daniel not even take to the track).