Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hamilton and Mercedes on Top but Ferrari Posts Strong Qualifying Result at Monza

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

Predating the Formula 1 championship and a part of the series since the inception of the tour in 1950, the 2015 Italian Grand Prix is the 84th time some of the world’s best racers will compete in the iconic country. All-but one of the Italian Grand Prix races involved in the Formula 1 championship has taken place at Monza. Viewed as the fastest circuit for which Formula 1 currently competes, the Autodromo Nationale di Monza consists of a 11-turn 5.793-kilometer track that severely tests race cars (especially engines). The 11th race in the 2015 Formula 1 season, conventional wisdom suggested Mercedes-Benz powered teams would have the advantage in competition through the Italian Grand Prix race weekend. However, qualifying for Sunday’s Monza event showed at least one competition may for narrowing the gap on the Silver Arrows

Following the first practice, the Mercedes AMG race cars driven by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were alarmingly faster than the rest of the field. Propelled by a new-spec Mercedes-Benz power unit for the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton’s top time was more than 1.5 seconds faster than the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. However, in Saturday’s time trials, the performance gap had narrowed to a point where a viable fight between the Mercedes AMG and Ferrari teams could take shape.

Surviving a valiant effort from the Scuderia Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton defended the Mercedes AMG’s undefeated streak of poles for the season. Taking the top spot on the grid with a 1-minute, 23.397-second lap time, the victory for the Silver Arrows consisted of a concerted threat from the Prancing Horse. On home soil, Ferrari mounted an impressively close performance with the Mercedes AMG cars. For the Italian Grand Prix qualifying, it was Kimi Raikkonen sitting on the front row of the grid. Taking the spot from teammate Sebastian Vettel late in Q3, Raikkonen was 0.234 seconds slower than Hamilton.

The result in qualifying was only the third time this season that an all-Mercedes AMG front row was broken up. In the other two occasions, it was Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari that took the second position on the Formula 1 race grid. Mercedes AMG’s streak of one-two front rows has ended after seven races but the team’s consecutive poles have grown to 23 races. A top spot at the next race in Singapore will tie a series record.

Both Ferraris split the Mercedes AMG duo in Italian Grand Prix qualifying by a narrow time margin. Starting third after teammate Raikkonen took the front row spot, Sebastian Vettel returns to the track where he won his first Formula 1 grand prix in 2008 driving a Toro Rosso powered by a Ferrari engine. Vettel’s top time was only 0.054 seconds off the pace of Raikkonen and 0.288 seconds slower than Lewis Hamilton. Nico Rosberg in the second Mercedes AMG car is starting fourth. While both Mercedes AMG team cars received new spec power units, trouble in practice caused the team to revert to older components that were previously used in Belgium.

In the third row, the Williams Martini Racing team has Felipe Massa on the same row with Valtteri Bottas. Earlier this week, Williams confirmed that both drivers will return to the organization for the 2016 season. Revelling in a positive run at the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago, Sergio Perez starts seventh for Force India. The second Force India driven by Nico Hulkenberg and the Lotus race cars complete the top-10. In all, 8 of the top-10 starters are powered by Mercedes-Benz engines.

McLaren, Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing teams have both been levied with grid position penalties for changes made to Renault and Honda powerplants. Starting at the back, the Toro Rosso-Ferrari driven by Max Verstappen had one of the wildest qualifying efforts of the session. During qualifying the engine cover of Verstappen’s machine came off at speed sending debris onto the racetrack.


2015 Formula 1

Italian Grand Prix

Starting Grid

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari Mercedes-Benz
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari Renault
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz
19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz Renault
77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault Mercedes-Benz
11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Mercedes-Benz Ferrari
27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz Renault
13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Mercedes-Benz Ferrari
12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari Ferrari
9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari Ferrari
28 Will Stevens Manor Marussia Ferrari Honda
98 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia Ferrari Honda
22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda Ferrari
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda Ferrari
55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault Renault
26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Renault Renault
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault Mercedes-Benz
33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault Mercedes-Benz

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