While Romain Grosjean struggled to get his self-described “worst car this year” around Monza in qualifying for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, it was a pummeling performance for Mercedes—and Mercedes-powered cars— who secured the top six positions for Sunday’s race.
Mercedes had more rear wing than other teams and yet still managed to be the fastest cars in the speed trap as well as quick in the corners. It’s not a positive sign if you are Ferrari or Red Bull but the energy drink team doesn’t have thousands of Tifosi salivating for a good result at their home grand prix.
Two laps left an impression and those were the efforts of Williams F1’s Valtteri Bottas as well as McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen placed 3rd and 5th respectively. A great run from Magnussen considering that he nearly missed advancing to Q3 but in doing so, he knocked Ferrari’s Kimi Riakkon out of the final qualifying session—something you don’t want to happen in front of the home crowd with all the Ferrari bosses in attendance.
Lewis Hamilton loves speed and Monza is the Cathedral of Speed so it’s only fitting that the 2012 race winner would throw down a penultimate lap in Q3 that was four tenths faster than his teammate. He was motivated and all his twetts and Facebook posts from earlier in the week—at the UK GQ man of the year event—said he was excited, happy and ready to battle at Monza.
Lewis was waving at the crowd and the team was jubilant over the achievement. Lewis even suggested he’d like Williams F1 to be competitive too so he could have a great race. Lewis loves a race and Monza is a place that usually delivers.
Tires…because that’s what F1 is all about isn’t it?
The frontrunners tried to get through Q1 using the hard tires only. The Toro Rosso, Force India and Sauber teams used the medium tires to go through to Q2, whereas the others ran only the hard compound.
From that point, all the drivers used the medium tire from Q2 onwards – with the regulations stating that the tire set used by the top 10 on the grid to set their fastest times in Q2 is the one that they will start the race on. Consequently, drivers had to take particular care of the second set used in Q2, while trying to set the best time possible to get through to the final top 10.
As usual, the drivers tried to leave it as late as possible to set their fastest times in Q3, to take advantage of optimal track temperatures and the most rubber possible laid down on the track. The low degradation of the medium tire also meant that more than one flying lap was possible. However, Hamilton – the winner of the Italian Grand Prix from pole position in 2012 – set his best time during his first run.
INFINITI RED BULL RACING
#1 Sebastian Vettel
“I think realistically anything from P5 to P10 was maybe possible, but it was very close. It’s a shame when you miss a couple of positions by just a few tenths or so, but we knew it would be like that going into today. When the gaps are close you always think you could have gone quicker, but that was probably it in terms of what we could do today. We should be quicker than McLaren tomorrow, I’d say we’ll be about the same as Ferrari, while Williams and Mercedes will likely be a bit too quick for us, but we’ll look after ourselves and see what happens in the race.”
#3 Daniel Ricciardo
“Even though we expected a tricky qualifying, I’m still disappointed. Ninth is not something to get really excited about. Seb’s in front, but he’s only in 8th as well and as a team we would have loved to have been a bit closer to the top five. We knew we wouldn’t challenge for the front two rows, but we thought that maybe sixth could be possible. Fingers crossed we’ve got better race pace tomorrow and we’ll try and do something with that.”
MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS
#44 Lewis Hamilton
“It’s a great feeling to be on pole here at Monza and I’m really excited for the race tomorrow. It’s also a relief to have had a clean qualifying session, my first for quite a while! Big thanks to my guys in the garage, I’m very proud of the way they’ve worked this year and dealt with all our ups and downs, they’ve done a great job. It’s business as usual tomorrow, we’re free to race and I hope we get a strong result for the team, hopefully a one-two. The other Mercedes-powered cars are looking strong here as well so it should be an exciting race. I’m looking forward to it.”
#6 Nico Rosberg
“Thank you to the boys, they did a great job making my car ready for Qualifying. Also, overnight we improved the set-up a lot with the engineering support from Brackley, therefore I felt a lot better in the car today compared to yesterday. Today Lewis was quicker, but starting from second place is still a very good position to win here at Monza. I will need a good start and good race pace, but I’m quite confident to get it all right tomorrow. So I’m very much looking forward to the race. Monza has always a great atmosphere and it’s so great to drive this great track with our phenomenal Silver Arrow.”
#14 Fernando Alonso
“We knew that, as usual in qualifying, it would be tough and that the encouraging signs we saw in free practice should not create false expectations. Unfortunately today, we could not have done better, because even though I was trying my hardest, we set very similar times with all four sets of tyres. Now, we must look ahead to the race, which will be a tough one and, given how small the gaps are, it could also be very interesting. Usually here, at the first chicane, there’s a lot of action and you need to be very careful if you want to be in the game. On top of that, it will be very important to manage the tyre degradation, given that the best strategy would seem to be a one-stop. Because of that it means doing a lot of laps on both compounds.”
#7 Kimi Raikkonen
“After a definitely positive start to the weekend, today in qualifying, I was expecting a better result. I experienced some difficulties in the afternoon, as the car was harder to drive, I was struggling to find the right grip level and I was locking the fronts. That’s why, on my last run on the Medium tyres, I made a few small mistakes which prevented me getting further than Q2. Starting eleventh is not ideal but all the same, I will give it my best shot tomorrow. We know we are up against some very strong opponents, but the long run went well and even if the race is another matter, this factor means we can be confident. It will be very important to get off the line well and choose the best strategy. It would be very nice to produce a good result for all our fans who have come to support us here in Monza.”
LOTUS F1 TEAM
#8 Roman Grosjean
“It wasn’t a perfect day today. We always knew that the track layout would not suit us that well plus we had issues this morning with the intercooler and we changed it during the lunchtime break. It took some time to finish the work and so we started our qualifying session a bit late after a coolant leak. We knew that the results would be tough but I was really proud and happy to see that every single mechanic came over to help get my car ready after Pastor’s car left the garage. This was a testament to the very strong team spirit from Enstone, even when the chips are against us. Tomorrow, as always, we will do our best in the race to battle hard to make up places.”
#13 Pastor Maldonado
“We knew that qualifying was going to be challenging for us especially with our lack of straight line speed. Tomorrow is race day and things could be better. We chose a tiny rear wing for Monza and normally there should be an improvement for the race itself on pace; equally we have good control on tyre degradation. Hopefully we will be able to fight for better positions on Sunday.”
#22 Jenson Button
“We’ve looked pretty good all weekend, and we gradually tweaked the set-up and balance through every session. On my final flying lap in Q3, I didn’t get a clean middle sector – I lost a little bit of time through the Lesmos – but we probably qualified better than expected. I’m a little surprised at how quick the Williams cars have been – we didn’t expect them to be that far in front of us – but we’re the third-best team on single-lap pace, which is nice. I think things will be a bit more competitive in the race: our Friday long-runs proved somewhat tricky for us, so we’ll be aiming for a better race tomorrow. It’ll be hotter on Sunday, too, which could potentially help us, so we’ll see what happens in the race.”
#20 Kevin Magnussen
“I’m happy – but it only really came together for me in qualifying. Fifth and sixth is pretty solid for the team. In fact, I didn’t think our qualifying pace would be quite that strong. I’m really happy to have the power from the Mercedes engine behind me – and hopefully we can challenge the other Mercedes runners in front of us. The Williams cars look a bit stronger than ours, and the Mercs too obviously, but I still think we can give it a go and score some good points. The team has done a great job to deliver this Monza-specific package. I have a feeling that our race performance is quite good – perhaps not on raw pace, but it has good straightline speed and feels strong under braking. We definitely have a car that we can race.”
SAHARA FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM
#27 Nico Hulkenberg
“My position today could have been better, but my final lap in Q2 was not on the pace. The main issue was the heavy traffic on my out lap going into the final corner, which really hurt my preparation. Everybody was backing up so I had to slow down and lost tyre temperature and pressure, and could not improve my time. Also, my first run in Q2 was not quite strong enough so we missed out on Q3. It was just a struggle today and the car has been feeling a bit loose. However, we can still race well. If I can make a good start and gain some positions on the first lap, we have every possibility of scoring some points.”
#11 Sergio Perez
“We can be happy about this result: P9 could have been possible, perhaps, but I feel we nearly maximised our potential and that’s all we could have asked from this session. Looking at our performance yesterday, our race pace should be strong, but there are not that many options to choose from with the strategy. I feel we are in a good position to have a strong race tomorrow. Anything can happen on this track and I am confident we can pick up good points.”
SAUBER F1 TEAM
#99 Adrian Sutil
“It was a solid qualifying without having any issues. After the technical problem we had during the third free practice session, everything went well in qualifying. At the beginning of the session the driveability of the car was difficult, so we made some changes to the tyre pressures and the aerodynamic set-up. The balance of the car improved lap by lap, but it took a while in order to feel more confident. With the last lap I am quite satisfied, but the 15th is the maximum at the moment. Tomorrow we have to make the best out of it during the race.”
#21 Esteban Gutierrez
“Overall it was a good qualifying, and we tried to get the most out of the car. A few more tenths would have been possible considering that I made a small mistake on the last lap. I want to thank all the responsible people at Ferrari because they have been fighting hard to get closer to the other engine manufacturers. We are working together as a team, and we are making progress. Obviously, we are still missing quite a lot of time to some teams in front of us, but we tried to get the maximum out of the car today.”
SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO
#25 Jean-Eric Vergne
“I made a good lap in Q1 and again in Q2, but it was not enough to get into Q3. I know I have done the best I could and I just could not drive any quicker. So far this weekend I have been struggling a lot with the car. I think this has been the most difficult weekend since the beginning of the season in terms of car handling. Anyhow, we are still looking forward to tomorrow. I will give it my hundred percent and aim to finish the race as high as possible.”
#26 Daniil Kvyat
“P11 is a good Qualifying result in the end and I did all I could, considering that the car was still a bit tricky to drive and it was difficult to put a lap together. It’s a shame that I won’t be starting from P11, but from P21. On the positive side, we are not carrying this grid penalty over to Singapore, so I’m pleased about that. It’s hard to say what we can do tomorrow, because starting from the back is never easy. We will look at what we can do with the strategy and I will give it my all to fight through the field to arrive as high up as possible.”
WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING
#19 Felipe Massa
“It was a good qualifying for me and for the team. I was missing just that little bit extra to get third. We aren’t too far off the Mercedes and I think everyone should be happy with the result. It’s a long race and we have good long run pace so who knows what will happen. Hopefully this is just the beginning of a good weekend. I am really going to give everything I can to get on that podium, especially as it’s such a great podium.”
#77 Valtteri Bottas
“To have both cars on the second row is a good starting point for the race. I am really happy with the qualifying lap and the car is set-up for the race so I am confident we can push the Mercedes, it’s just a question of how much can we push them. If we have a great start it could open a lot of opportunities, and the pitstop lap could be critical depending on our strategy. If anything happens with the cars just in front of us, we will be there to collect those points.”
MARUSSIA F1 TEAM
#17 Jules Bianchi
“I’m disappointed, I have to say. It was very close between ourselves and the cars around us – just a tenth here and there – but we dropped behind a Caterham when we should be ahead. I think we were on the limit in terms of what we could do in qualifying, but I know we will be much better off for the race and we’re close enough to the cars in front to get ahead. Tonight we will see what we can do in terms of giving ourselves the best strategy and do everything possible to get the best result tomorrow.”
#4 Max Chilton
“Today was a bit of a challenge. I was really quite happy with the car yesterday, on heavier fuel. After FP3 this morning we made a few changes and I think we went in the right direction, but perhaps not enough, as we just struggled. With our team in the mix with the Lotuses and the Caterhams, it looks like it’s going to be a pretty close race. I think we can improve tomorrow and have a good fight with the cars around us.”
CATERHAM F1 TEAM
#10 Kamui Kobayashi
“I’m very happy with today’s qualifying result! I think the updates we introduced in Spa are working well and this is very positive news for the team. I didn’t have much time in the car yesterday, but I think it has been a very good comeback. We worked hard overnight to improve the car and we’ve ended up ahead of our competitors today. I’m very confident for tomorrow – it will be a very challenging race but we are looking strong.”
#09 Marcus Ericsson
“This morning in FP3 we had a small problem with the engine before the performance run, so we didn’t get to do a proper run on the Option tyres and therefore we went into qualifying a bit blind, unfortunately. Everything worked fine in the afternoon, but we struggled to get the most out of the car. We need to look at the data tonight and see where we can improve compared to Kamui. I’m disappointed with the result but we will certainly fight back tomorrow!”
The 2014 Italian Grand Prix starting grid
|8||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||1m25.436s||1.327s|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m25.709s||1.600s|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m25.944s||1.835s|
|12||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m26.157s||–|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m26.279s||–|
|21||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m26.070s||–|