Italian Grand Prix: Friday Practice Recap

Event:  Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 (FP1 and FP2) 

Date:  Friday, Sept. 1

Location:  Autodromo Nazionale Monza

Layout:  5.793-kilometer (3.6-mile), 11-turn circuit

FP1 Weather:  Partly cloudy

FP1 Air Temps:  21.7-22.9 degrees Celsius (71.1-73.2 degrees Fahrenheit)

FP1 Track Temps:  23.5-28.3 degrees Celsius (74.3-82.9 degrees Fahrenheit)

FP2 Weather:  Partly sunny

FP2 Air Temps:  25.1-27.5 degrees Celsius (77.2-81.5 degrees Fahrenheit)

FP2 Track Temps:  32.7-40.6 degrees Celsius (90.9-105.1 degrees Fahrenheit)

Drivers:  Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen 

Magnussen:  12th quick (1:23.973), 22 laps completed

Grosjean:  16th quick (1:24.079), 22 laps completed

Fastest Driver:  Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes (1:21.537)

Most Laps:  Felipe Massa of Williams (37 laps)

Grosjean:  16th quick (1:23.567), 31 laps completed

Magnussen:  17th quick (1:23.650), 20 laps completed

Fastest Driver:  Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes (1:21.406)

Most Laps:  Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez of Force India (43 laps apiece)

The 13th round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship began with practice Friday at Autodromo Nazionale Monza as teams prepared for the Italian Grand Prix Sunday. Two 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.793-kilometer (3.6-mile), 11-turn circuit were run under varying weather conditions, with FP1 cloudy and slightly cooler while FP2 was sunny and warm.

FP1 was completed as rain threatened throughout with only the occasional drop on various portions of the track. Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen took advantage of the dry running, not knowing if FP2 would be run under the same conditions.

With FP1 potentially being the only session of the day without rain, the decision was made to postpone Antonio Giovinazzi’s planned FP1 stint in place of Magnussen. Giovinazzi is the third driver for Scuderia Ferrari and Magnussen had graciously relinquished his seat for Giovinazzi to gain some additional Formula One experience. The 23-year-old from Martina Franca, Italy, drove a Formula One car earlier this year when he subbed for the injured Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber during the first week of winter testing at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya and again during the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix. This was scheduled to be the third of seven FP1 sessions where Giovinazzi drove for Haas F1 Team. Giovinazzi will get a makeup FP1 session at a to-be-determined venue before the end of the season.

Magnussen led the way for Haas F1 Team in FP1 with the 12th-fastest time. He logged 22 laps with a best time of 1:23.973 coming on his 14th tour while riding a set of Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tires. Grosjean also ran 22 laps, with his quick time being a 1:24.079 earned on his 12th lap, also on Red supersofts. He was 16th overall. Both drivers performed the same program and sampled all the tires in Pirelli’s Monza lineup, beginning with the White medium for their installation laps before bolting on Yellow softs and eventually transitioning to the grippier and faster Red supersofts.

Fastest in FP1 was the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton earned the top spot with a lap of 1:21.537, which was .435 of a second faster than Bottas.

Monza’s long straights and flowing corners allow teams to bring a low-downforce package where their drivers are able to approach speeds of nearly 360 kph (224 mph) and average lap times of 259 kph (161 mph). In fact, the fastest lap ever recorded in Formula One took place at Monza.

Speeds increased in FP2, with the majority of the field bettering their FP1 marks as the air temperature was nearly five degrees warmer than FP1 with a track temperature that was 12 degrees higher.

Grosjean wrapped FP2 as the 16th-quickest driver with a time of 1:23.567, which was .512 of a second better than his best lap in FP1. His quick time came on the 11th of his 31 laps shod on a set of Red supersoft tires. Magnussen shaved .323 of a second off his FP1 time with a 1:23.650 earned on his 15th lap, also while utilizing the supersoft tire. He ended the session just behind his teammate in 17th with 20 laps completed. Magnussen’s lap total would have emulated Grosjean’s, but a rear suspension failure cut his running short with 13 minutes remaining in FP2.

Mercedes again set the pace, but in reverse order, with Bottas atop FP2. His quick time of 1:21.406 was .056 of a second faster than Hamilton. The quick time was still 1.881 seconds off the all-time fastest lap at Monza – and the all-time fastest lap in Formula One history – which is 1:19.525 set by Juan Pablo Montoya during practice for the 2004 Italian Grand Prix.

Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 95 laps – 53 by Grosjean and 42 by Magnussen.

“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.”

“We have something to understand about the tires. 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.”

“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.”

Drivers have one more practice session on Saturday (11:00-12:00) before qualifying starts at 14:00. Qualifying consists of three rounds, with the 15 fastest drivers from Q1 moving on to Q2. Then, the 10 fastest drivers from Q2 advance to Q3 where they’ll battle for the pole.