Mercedes Lewis Hamilton yet again set the Italian standard at Monza, closely followed by championship compatriot Nico Rosberg. Mercedes new upgrade saw them well clear of competition, their closest rival was Sebastian Vettel followed by the two speedy Force India’s.
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap with a 1.24.279, however team-mate Rosberg wasn’t far behind as the German was only 0.021 shy of the championship leader.
From the rest of the field, Mercedes pretty much were out of reach for the competitors, nearest rival Vettel was 0.759 behind pacesetter Hamilton. The Ferrari’s pace looks good for the ‘best of the rest’ status for the weekend, but not on standard to beat the two Mercedes.
Force India springed in surprises at Monza, as Perez went P4, 0.999 off the pace, whilst Hulkenberg was 1.046 off Hamilton’s best. Both qualifying and race trim look good for the Silverstone based squad, as they well and truly can be Ferrari’s closest rival. Force India’s strong-showing is likely to upset the Williams squad, as it would ruin their chances after a horrible Spa.
As usual, Williams led their own proceedings on Friday, the two had a trouble-free session, the pair went ninth and tenth in Bottas’ favor. Bottas was 1.368 seconds off the pace, and Massa was 1.6 seconds off. It would be an interesting battle between Ferrari, Force India and Williams on race day, with the fans cheering on for Ferrari at their home event.
Despite the long Italian straights, and low downforce themed Monza, Ascari chicane proved difficult for the drivers. Both Grosjean and Verstappen made a trip across the gravel trap.
It was a good start to the weekend for Lotus, after Grosjean put the E23 on the podium in Belgium. Romain Grosjean lead the Lotus charge, the Frenchman went P7 whilst Maldonado went P8.
It was a scruffy day for Red Bull, Ricciardo had gearbox problems towards the start of practice 2, while Kvyat lacked pace and was all the way down in P20. The team are set for massive penalties this weekend for engine changes.
Reliability struck McLaren yet again, Jenson Button was hit with problems midway through the session, with his best lap a 1.28.471, which put him in P19, with only Kvyat slower. Fernando Alonso had a trouble-free session, the Spaniard went P16, with a 1:26:966.
The Ferrari’s look awful lot more competitive in terms of the race trim, much rather than the qualifying trim.