Saturday, September 3, 2016

2016 ITALIAN GP: MERCEDES AMG ON FIRST, FERRARI ON SECOND ROW

Lewis Hamilton scored his seventh pole position of the 2016 and his fifth at the Italian GP with a dominant performance at Monza where he beat team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg by almost half second. Sebastian Vettel qualified third for Ferrari ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

The first casualty of Q1 was Manor’s Esteban Ocon. With eight minutes gone in Q1, the Frenchman, who made his race debut at last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, suffered a technical problem that forced him to pull over at Turn 1. He exited the session without setting a lap time.

At the front, Hamilton set the early pace. As the clock wound down at the back things were more fluid, with Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, McLaren`s Fernando Alonso, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer and Magnussen, the second of Sauber`s Marcus Ericsson in the drop zone ahead of the unfortunate Ocon.

Only Alonso made it out of that group with the Spaniard posting a time of 1:23.783, just four hundredths of a second clear of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat who was first to be eliminated in P17. Behind him were Nasr, Ericsson, Palmer, Magnussen and Ocon.

At the start of Q2 both the Mercedes and Ferrari pairings went out on soft compound Pirelli tyres. Rosberg set the first time of the session with a lap of 1:21.809 but he was quickly eclipsed by Hamilton, who went 0.311s better to claim provisional top spot. Rosberg slotted into P2 ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, all cars powered by Mercedes engines.

Both Ferrari drivers swiftly moved supersoft tyres and Vettel jumped up to P3 with a time of 1:22.275, 0.777s adrift of Hamilton’s soft tyre time. Raikkonen took P5 behind Bottas with Massa in sixth ahead of Esteban Gutierrez and Perez. In ninth and tenth places after the initial runs were Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, both having set their times on soft tyres. The Red Bull pair bolted on supersofts for their final runs in the segment, however and Verstappen jumped to P6 to ensure passage to Q3.

Ricciardo went quicker to claim the same spot as Verstappen dropped to eighth behind Esteban Gutierrez who have Haas something to cheer about by handing the team it’s first Q3 berth. It was also the Mexican’s first Q3 since the Korean Grand Prix of 2013. Behind Verstappen, the final two Q3 places were taken by the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg. Out at this stage from P11 back went Massa, Romain Grosjean in the second Haas, Alonso, Wehrlein, the second McLaren of Jenson Button and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz.

In the first runs of Q3 Rosberg was first across the line but his time was slower than his Q2 best and Hamilton quickly demoted his team-mate to P2 with an opening lap of 1:21.358, 0.140s faster than his own Q2 best. Raikkonen slotted in to third, seven tenths adrift of Hamilton with Vettel fourth ahead of Bottas, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez and Gutierrez.

And there was no significant improvement by Rosberg in the final runs. The German made a marginal gain but Hamilton once again appeared to effortlessly carve a chunk out of his own personal best time to take his seventh pole position of his career and his 56th overall. Ferrari will line up for its home race in P3 and P4, with Vettel beating team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to the forward slot of row two by just under a tenth of a second. Valtteri Bottas gave Williams hope of a good points with fifth place ahead of the Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Verstappen, with the Force Indias of Perez and Hulkenberg set to line up on row five.

2016 ITALIAN GRAND PRIX - QUALIFYING
 P.   DRIVER             TEAM        TIME     GAP  
 1. Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes AMG 1:21.135
 2. Nico Rosberg      Mercedes AMG 1:21.615 + 0.478
 3. Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari      1:21.972 + 0.837
 4. Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari      1:22.065 + 0.930
 5. Valtteri Bottas   Williams     1:22.388 + 1.253
 6. Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull     1:22.389 + 1.254
 7. Max Verstappen    Red Bull     1:22.411 + 1.276
 8. Sergio Perez      Force India  1:22.814 + 1.679
 9. Nico Hulkenberg   Force India  1:22.836 + 1.701
10. Esteban Gutierrez Haas         1:23.184 + 2.049
   Q2 Fastest Time: Луис Хамилтон 1:21.498         
11. Felipe Massa      Williams     1:22.967 + 1.469
12. Romain Grosjean   Haas*        1:23.092 + 1.594
13. Fernando Alonso   McLaren      1:23.273 + 1.775
14. Pascal Wehrlein   Manor        1:23.315 + 1.817
15. Jenson Button     McLaren      1:23.399 + 1.901
16. Carlos Sainz JR.  Toro Rosso   1:23.496 + 1.998
   * penalty 5 grid places
   Q1 Fastest Time: Луис Хамилтон 1:21.854         
17. Daniil Kvyat      Toro Rosso   1:23.825 + 1.971
18. Felipe Nasr       Sauber       1:23.956 + 2.102
19. Marcus Ericsson   Sauber       1:24.087 + 2.233
20. Jolyon Palmer     Renault      1:24.230 + 2.376
21. Kevin Magnussen   Renault      1:24.436 + 2.582
22. Esteban Ocon      Manor          no time set
    107% time: 1:27.584

* 2014 Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG - 1:24.109
* 2015 Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG - 1:23.397