Productive practice day for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team at Monza
Valtteri set the pace in FP1, with Lewis close behind in P2
Lewis ended FP2 at the top of the timesheets, with Valtteri in second
The team focused on understanding performance on all three tyre compounds, across both short and long runs, during the two practice sessions
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F1 W11 EQ Performance /01
F1 W11 EQ Performance /03
The car didn’t feel great in the first session but in the afternoon, it felt like we made some encouraging improvements and it was much better. We have a few more steps to make overnight and then I think it’ll be where it needs to. It’s quite a bumpy track here and with the low downforce, there’s a lot of sliding. You need to find the right balance with the bumps and between the low and high-speed turns. The field is typically a lot closer here, compared to Spa, as it’s such a fast lap and there aren’t many corners. Valtteri’s quick here, too, so it’s going to be a fun battle. It’s going to be interesting in Qualifying, obviously we didn’t get our final lap in last year and I think the last corner will be a bit of a nightmare with everyone trying to get a gap, so it’s going to be hard work.
The car felt pretty good out there throughout the day, but there is always more to come. I’m sure we can still improve it, for example the rear stability was lacking a bit in a few of the corners. My lap in practice two wasn’t great so from my side, there’s quite a bit more to come as well. It’s an unusual track here, quite stop and start, with not so many high-speed corners and traction being very important out of the slow turns. The margins are so fine here and there aren’t many corners to make the difference. I was a little surprised by the lap times and performance compared to the others at this stage in the weekend, but I’m sure every team will find more time and it’ll be closer tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to it.
The car seems to be working well here and it feels like we are in a more competitive region with regards to straightline speed, compared to last weekend in Spa. Most of the day was spent understanding the tyres. It’s a bit hotter than last year, which will shift things around a bit, but overall they all seem pretty similar in terms of performance, especially on a long run. There’s the usual work to do overnight on the balance, traction is strong at the moment and we have a few places where the front end needs to be better and others where the rear is a bit weak. Tomorrow should be interesting, to see where everyone is in terms of power in Qualifying as it’s the introduction of the new Technical Directive, that requires teams to use a single mode. The Mercedes-powered teams are probably going to be the most affected on a single lap, but our overall package has looked pretty good here today so hopefully we won’t get any nasty surprises.