Google+ Jack Leslie F1: 2016 Italian Grand Prix Weekend Report

2 September 2016

2016 Italian Grand Prix Weekend Report

Formula 1 moved from one classic track to another for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, following an action-packed Belgian GP at Spa.
© Mercedes
It marked the final European round of the 2016 season and the 67th time the Italian GP has appeared on the F1 calendar.

Nico Rosberg drew first blood in the opening practice session of the Italian GP weekend, putting in a low-fuel run on the soft tyre to go quickest with a 1m22.959.
© Octane Photographic

His team-mate Lewis Hamilton was second fastest, two tenths further back. Using an updated power unit, Ferrari finished third and fourth with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Sergio Perez showed strong early pace for Force India in fifth, with Romain Grosjean sixth for Haas and Valtteri Bottas in seventh. 

Max Verstappen, Esteban Gutierrez and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 10. Jenson Button was 11th, while Alfonso Celis Jr. replaced Nico Hulkenberg for the session and was 12th.

Fernando Alonso was 13th for McLaren despite a gearbox issue in the closing stages.

Hamilton moved to the top of the timesheets in second practice at the Monza circuit, beating his team-mate Rosberg by two tenths of a second. 
© Octane Photographic

The British driver put in a 1m22.801 on the super-soft tyre mid-way through FP2 to end the session in first place. Rosberg was second, with Vettel and Raikkonen closing the gap to the Silver Arrows in third and fourth. 

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were next up. After a slow start to the session, Alonso eventually finished seventh, ahead of Bottas, Grosjean and Button. Massa was 11th, ahead of the Force India duo of Hulkenberg and Perez. 

Esteban Ocon had a tough afternoon. His Manor broke down at the first Lesmo corner and brought out a Virtual Safety Car (VSC). 

Hamilton put in the fastest time in final practice for the Italian Grand Prix, with Mercedes well clear of the rest of the field. 
© Octane Photographic

He put in a 1m22.008 on the super-soft tyre mid-way through the session and finished four tenths ahead of his team-mate Rosberg. 

The Ferraris of Vettel and Raikkonen were one second further back. Bottas and Massa set the fifth and sixth best times, moving ahead of Ricciardo and Verstappen in the final part of FP3. Perez and Gutierrez completed the top 10. 

Hulkenberg, Button and Sainz were next up. Grosjean found himself in 14th despite exiting the session early on with a spin into the gravel at Ascari. 

He wasn’t the only one to sample the Monza gravel. Palmer went off in the final few minutes at the Parabolica but managed to continue, finishing 15th. 

Hamilton’s domination from practice two and three at Monza continued in qualifying, with the three-time world champion storming to pole position. 
© Octane Photographic

He led the way after the first runs in Q3 but improved his time further with a 1m21.135 to clinch pole by almost half a second. 

Rosberg found more time on his last lap but it wasn’t enough and he finished well behind his team-mate, with Vettel jumping Raikkonen in the final seconds of the session. 

Bottas was fifth fastest, ahead of the Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Verstappen. Perez, Hulkenberg and Gutierrez – who ran wide on his first Q3 attempt – rounded out the top 10. 

Some quick laps at the end of the second segment dropped Massa down to 11th and into the Q2 elimination zone, just ahead of Grosjean. 

Alonso was 13th, with Wehrlein 14th for Manor and Button 15th in the second McLaren. Sainz completed the runners in Q2. 

Kvyat just missed out on a spot in Q2 and was the fastest driver in the Q1 drop-zone, just ahead of Nasr and and Ericsson. 

Palmer was 18th, ahead of Magnussen – who ran wide at Ascari on his last lap. Ocon’s Manor ground to a halt at Turn 1 early in the session and he failed to set a time. 

The Race
The revs rose, the lights went out and the Italian GP got underway. Rosberg had a storming start from second place and moved into the lead on the run to the first corner, with Vettel jumping up to second place.

Hamilton bogged down and fell to sixth place, behind Raikkonen, Bottas and Ricciardo. Behind, several drivers cut the chicane and Verstappen dropped to 12th place after a similarly poor launch from the grid.
© Octane Photographic

Rosberg held off the challenges of Vettel on the opening lap. Further back, Palmer and Nasr collided at the exit of the first chicane on lap two, taking both drivers out of the race - the Sauber driver briefly returned to the track but only for a few laps.

Wehrlein jumped up to 11th in the early stages but he gradually fell down the field. Button and Gutierrez also had difficult starts and found themselves at the back of the pack. Rosberg soon established a small lead over the chasing Vettel, who wasn't letting him out of his sights.

Hamilton passed Ricciardo for fifth but then got stuck behind Bottas, taking more time to get ahead of the Williams. He eventually did and was promoted to fourth. The Mercedes driver started closing in on the Ferrari drivers, with Vettel four seconds behind Rosberg by lap 12 and Raikkonen a little way further back.

Verstappen made progress in the opening part of the race and was up to ninth by lap 14, before he followed Bottas and Alonso into the pits. Raikkonen and Vettel stopped for another set of super-softs on laps 15 and 16, while Rosberg and Hamilton stayed out on the softs.

Ricciardo pitted a little while later and emerged behind Bottas. Alonso lost time after his pit box light system didn't change to green during his stop. It took until the 25th lap for Rosberg to stop for mediums, with Hamilton coming in for the same compound one tour later.

Wehrlein pitted and retired after being told to stop his car at the exit of the first chicane with a problem. His Manor brought out a brief yellow flag. Rosberg remained out front, with Vettel next up and Raikkonen dropping back slightly.
© Octane Photographic

Hamilton was fourth at the time but knew the Ferraris would pit. They did just that on lap 34, going to the softs. Kvyat retired a little while later for Toro Rosso, after another difficult race for the Russian driver.

Ricciardo also stopped late in the race and went onto the super-softs, which was enough for him to catch up and pass Bottas after a late lunge at the first chicane. From there, it was a pretty straight-forward run to the flag.

Rosberg crossed the line 15 seconds clear of Hamilton to give Mercedes a 1-2 finish, the German scoring his first Italian GP victory. Vettel was third, giving Ferrari one driver on the podium at its home race.

Raikkonen was fourth, with Ricciardo a hard-fought fifth, Bottas sixth and Verstappen recovering to seventh. Perez, Massa and Hulkenberg completed the top 10, ahead of Grosjean, Button and Gutierrez. 

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