2014 Italian Grand Prix: Friday Analysis

Hamilton Compromised As Rosberg Rules The Timesheet

If Hamilton does win the World Championship this season, he will have certainly earned it. It has so far been a campaign plagued by reliability issues and they reappeared once again today, with electrical issues not only ending his FP1 session early, but eating into 60 minutes of FP2. Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg was racking up the mileage and setting the fastest time of the day along the way. However, Lewis was not the only man suffering from the odd issue today…

The Hungary Powertrain Lives On

When Lewis Hamilton came to a halt at the pit entry during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, the flames bellowing from his Mercedes looked to all but write-off the powertrain. It was a mess, but somehow the engine team at Brackley have restored the unit and it was once again in operation today. A remarkable effort but it seemed to be a poison chalice for much of today, as electrical issues plagued Hamilton. 
Firstly, an issue at the end of FP1 curtailed Lewis’ progress slightly earlier than planned. However, FP2 was when the issues became far more damaging, as the car failed to start on several occasions when the session began. Frantic work by the Mercedes team, in which the floor was removed and a human barrier installed to keep the secrets of the W05 hidden from prying eyes, was in aid of solving what was cited as an electrical issue by Paddy Lowe. Once again, the Mercedes crew demonstrated their talents and Hamilton was back on track with 30 minutes of the session remaining. 
He certainly used what little track time he had productively. setting the second fastest time of the day and performing, an albeit short, race simulation run. He may have been significantly down on mileage compared to his arch rival Nico Rosberg, in the most crucial of the three practice sessions, but today was far from a write off for the Brit. His long run pace was as good as his Mercedes counterpart and his pace in FP1 will be more than enough to give Lewis hope of a Pole Position ahead of tomorrow – he is certainly due a table-topping Saturday.

McLaren Looking Strong

They have not been three words which have been strung together in recent times, but this weekend appears to be the teams opportunity to score another podium in 2014. Ironically, it is the inherent lack of downforce which has been the Achilles-heal of the MP4-29 that is playing into the team’s hands at Monza – a circuit where downforce simply means drag. 
Jenson Button’s second place on the timesheet in FP1 was perhaps unrepresentative, but McLaren’s long run pace in FP2 certainly highlighted that the team could be in for a significant points haul this weekend – It may not have been on par with Williams, but it was still impressive. Button appeared to have an edge over his young teammate Kevin Magnussen, but both drivers seem capable of good things on both Saturday and Sunday. It does also help when you have a Mercedes powertrain launching your assault onto the Monza straights.  

Unpredictable Under Braking

Monza is all about power and braking, and unfortunately, Lotus seem to have neither attribute at the moment and are in for a tough weekend. Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado both struggled today, with the former in particular demonstrating just how tough the E22 is too drive after missing FP1 with Charles Pic taking the reigns. Every braking zone seemed to be an adventure for Romain – a trip into the unknown and a lock-up followed by an excursion was a regular occurrence. The Frenchman seemed to be off as much as he was on the track and even making it to Q2 might be difficult for the Enstone based squad.  

FP1 Timesheet

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.187
2 Jenson Button McLaren +0.623
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +0.808
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +0.982
5 Kevin Magnussen McLaren +1.041
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +1.084
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +1.306
8 Sergio Perez Force India +1.500
9 Daniil Kvyat STR +1.554
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +1.925
11 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +1.927
12 Valtteri Bottas Williams- +1.961
13 Felipe Massa Williams +1.963
14 Jean-Eric Vergne STR +2.113
15 Giedo van der Garde Sauber +2.242
16 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +2.300
17 Daniel Juncadella Force India +3.005
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus +3.325
19 Max Chilton Marussia +3.830
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia +3.894
21 Charles Pic Lotus +3.938
22 Roberto Merhi Caterham +4.517
23 Marcus Ericsson Caterham +4.761   

FP2 Timesheet

1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.225 
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.061
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +0.106
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +0.340
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams +0.533
6 Jenson Button McLaren +0.537
7 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +0.537
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren +0.656
9 Felipe Massa Williams +0.710
10 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +0.767
11 Sergio Perez Force India +0.854
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +1.002
13 Daniil Kvyat STR +1.251
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +1.615
15 Jean-Eric Vergne STR +1.704
16 Adrian Sutil Sauber +1.804
17 Jules Bianchi Marussia +2.434
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus +2.475
19 Max Chilton Marussia +2.561
20 Romain Grosjean Lotus +2.860
21 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham +2.953
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham +3.050
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