The 2014 F1 Championship resumed at the historic Monza circuit, north of Milan in Italy today. Following a tense Driver's Press Conference yesterday with both Mercedes F1 drivers in attendance claiming that the Spa spat has now been forgotten, it was Nico Rosberg that performed the better at the end of the days running, with a time of 1:26.225 ahead of 2nd place Lewis Hamilton by 0.061 seconds who did spend 57 minutes of the second session stuck in the garage.
Free Practice 1
It was Hamilton who set a benchmark lap of 1:26.187 on the harder of the two tyre compounds, finishing six tenths quicker than fellow Brit Jenson Button's McLaren-Mercedes. Nico Rosberg finished a very close third place with the normal appearance of Alonso in 4th and Magnussen in 5th showing that McLaren could have real pace here this weekend. All drivers completed times on the hard compound tyre, so times are expected to be much quicker in FP2.
The recent merry go round of drivers getting their opportunity to test continued in Monza with Spaniard Roberto Mehri (pictured) replacing Kobayashi's Caterham, Charles Pic returning to an F1 car to bed in Grosjean's Lotus, Gideo van der Garde taking Adrian Sutil's Suaber, and Daniel Juncadella stepping into Sergio Perez' Force India for the first 30 minutes. Mehri certainly did well to outperform his more experienced teammate, Marcus Ericsson by finishing the session over two-tenths quicker.
Top 10 Results: Hamilton | Button | Rosberg | Alonso | Magnussen | Vettel | Raikkonen | Perez | Kvyat | Hukenberg.
Free Practice 2
Nico Rosberg bounced back in FP2 to set the fastest time although slower than the time set by his teammate in the morning session. Lewis Hamilton was unable to compete in the session until nearly an hour into it due to an electrical fault linked to a sensor. Upon returning to the circuit he was immediately on the pace and finished very close to Rosberg's time.
As was revealed in the break between sessions, Hamilton was running with the engine that caught fire in qualifying at Hungary all too aware that as we approach the end of the season a lot of the drivers may start incurring penalties for using more than their allotted amount of engine parts.
The Ferrari's were the closest challengers to Mercedes with Raikkonen ahead of Alonso in third and fourth respectively with Bottas, Button, Vettel and Magnussen rounding out the top eight.
Mercedes power is certainly the dominant force here at the fastest track on the calendar with the top 7 cars through the speed trap being Mercedes power. No Renault powered cars featured at all in the top 10.
Mercedes don't seem to have the time advantage they have had in other tracks with the whole grid separated by just three seconds, and the top 12 split across one second.
Much talk through the day has been regarding the added tarmac at Curva Parabolica and some drivers purposely went off line to test the grip levels. It seems as if there is no advantage and despite the sanitisation of the corner, the challenge of keeping the car on the black stuff remains.
With a dry weekend ahead, tomorrow's final free practice ahead of qualifying it is currently too close to call for which Mercedes driver is looking strongest.
Top 10 Results: Rosberg | Hamiton | Raikkonen | Alonso | Bottas | Button | Vettel | Magnussen | Massa | Ricciardo