Morning After: Too Close for the Tifosi

Despite having the fastest car in both sessions of free practice, Ferrari still have work to do if they’re to make it back-to-back wins in Monza this weekend.

If there’s such a thing as a good and bad day for Ferrari, Friday might have been it.

The fastest car on track courtesy of Charles Leclerc, it seems the Monegasque is poised to pick up right where he left off in Belgium, and obviously, that’s a very good thing.

On the other hand, with Lewis Hamilton only 0.068 seconds behind, despite setting his time a half-hour later amidst more sprinkles, there’s still very real cause for concern.

Even compared to Belgium last week, where the Ferrari’s had better outright pace but were about even over a full stint, it seems Mercedes have gained ground.

Indeed, all the SF90’s straight-line superiority might not be enough for qualifying if getting a tow is as important as it appeared to be yesterday. In that case, winning pole could come down to a team’s co-ordination and execution, and recent history would seem to make it unwise to bet on Ferrari.

On the (literal) bright side, the forecast for Saturday is entirely devoid of the rain that notably impacted yesterday, so perhaps their pace advantage will return. Still, the info we have so far would suggest as much a battle tomorrow as is expected on Sunday, and that makes this a very intriguing weekend indeed.

Friday Figures

0.444 seconds. Gap between Lewis Hamilton’s average time in his 15-lap medium-stint (1:25.131), and Sebastian Vettel’s 13-lapper (1:25.575). Valtteri Bottas was also ahead by 0.234 seconds on his soft-tyre run, albeit with double the laps (14 to 7), of Charles Leclerc.

P2 & P3. Finishing positions of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris respectively in FP1. I can’t remember the last time McLaren have finished so high in practice, but I’d guess it was 2012 at the earliest.

Three. Drivers taking engine penalties this weekend already, with the Renault-powered Lando Norris, and Honda-powered Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly all exceeding their limit of PU components.

Quick Hits

Nice to see Lando Norris repping Valentino Rossi even when he’s not on track, even if his virtual teammate Max Verstappen is not a fan.

Interesting to hear Antonio Giovinazzi’s father ‘confirm’ his son will be with Alfa Romeo next year, per Sky F1. Rumours would seem to indicate it will be Marcus Ericsson in his seat come 2020, if not sooner.

Keep fighting, Juan-Manuel.