Nothing’s changed for Mercedes duo as battle resumes

2014 Italian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg say nothing has changed in their approach to racing each other as they prepare to resume battle at Monza.

Mercedes read their drivers the riot act after the events of Spa – but they also told them they were free to keep racing each other.

Sunday’s race will show whether Hamilton and Rosberg are going to repay that trust – or whether they’re going to keep raising the stakes ever higher as the battle for the championship increasingly turns into a grudge match.

But for Hamilton the imperative is to stay out of trouble and cut into his team’s mates 29-point advantage in the standings. Another result as bad as Spa (or Montreal or Melbourne) would leave him at a serious disadvantage in the points standings.

The start

With Hamilton on pole position and Rosberg behind him, there will be a few million eyes keeping a very close watch on where Rosberg’s front wing goes as the pair negotiate the Rettifilio chicane on the first lap.

But will the Mercedes drivers play safe with each other? Asked after qualifying Mercedes’ warnings will be “ringing in their ears” Hamilton simply said: “They won’t be ringing in my ears at all.”

Rosberg added their approach to racing each other “has not changed”.

“Already before, when we started the season, the message has been clear – so there’s no real change at the moment. So, from that point of change it’s the same as always, in a way.”

But the Mercedes drivers may have more to worry about than each other. Behind them the two Williams drivers are waiting to pounce. Both Valtteri Bottas, third, and Felipe Massa behind him have made strong starts this year.

Monza’s 380-metre run to the first corner is one of the longest of the season and that can allow drivers to attack from further back on the grid. In 2011 Fernando Alonso powered into the lead from fourth.

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For Rosberg to finish in front of Hamilton, he’s almost certainly going to have to pass his team mate on the track. Mercedes are scrupulous about not giving one driver a strategic advantage, and at any rate it’s unusual to see drivers make more than one pit stop at Monza. The high speed nature of the circuit means a lot of time is lost coming into the pits.

In qualifying Hamilton was quicker in the middle sector of the lap, Rosberg in sector one. That, and Rosberg’s higher straight-line speed, indicates he’s running slightly less downforce, which could help him attack on the straights.

All the drivers in the top ten will start on the medium compound tyres. Hamilton had a small lock-up on the set he will start the race on but said afterwards he wasn’t concerned about potential damage. “I didn’t have any problems with the tyres when I finished the lap, so they’re fine,” he said.

Friday practice indicated the Williams cars may have the pace to apply some pressure to Mercedes in the race. It’s another reason why Mercedes need to impress upon their warring drivers the fact they have 20 other rivals on the track.

“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,” said Valtteri Bottas, who starts third, “it’s just a question of how much can we push them”.

After one of their strongest qualifying performances of the year, McLaren have an opportunity to reinforce their margin over Force India in the championship. But some of the drivers behind expect to be able to challenge them during the race.

“We should be quicker than McLaren tomorrow,” said Sebastian Vettel, who starts eighth alongside Alonso. “I’d say we’ll be about the same as Ferrari, while Williams and Mercedes will likely be a bit too quick for us.”

Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’25.3631’24.560 (-0.803)1’24.109 (-0.451)
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’25.4931’24.600 (-0.893)1’24.383 (-0.217)
3Valtteri BottasWilliams1’26.0121’24.858 (-1.154)1’24.697 (-0.161)
4Felipe MassaWilliams1’25.5281’25.046 (-0.482)1’24.865 (-0.181)
5Kevin MagnussenMcLaren1’26.3371’25.973 (-0.364)1’25.314 (-0.659)
6Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’26.3281’25.630 (-0.698)1’25.379 (-0.251)
7Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’26.5141’25.525 (-0.989)1’25.430 (-0.095)
8Sebastian VettelRed Bull1’26.6311’25.769 (-0.862)1’25.436 (-0.333)
9Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’26.7211’25.946 (-0.775)1’25.709 (-0.237)
10Sergio PerezForce India1’26.5691’25.863 (-0.706)1’25.944 (+0.081)
11Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’26.2611’26.070 (-0.191)
12Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’26.6891’26.110 (-0.579)
13Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1’26.1401’26.157 (+0.017)
14Nico HulkenbergForce India1’26.3711’26.279 (-0.092)
15Adrian SutilSauber1’27.0341’26.588 (-0.446)
16Esteban GutierrezSauber1’26.9991’26.692 (-0.307)
17Pastor MaldonadoLotus1’27.520
18Romain GrosjeanLotus1’27.632
19Kamui KobayashiCaterham1’27.671
20Jules BianchiMarussia1’27.738
21Max ChiltonMarussia1’28.247
22Marcus EricssonCaterham1’28.562

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton27.318 (4)28.562 (1)28.229 (1)
Nico Rosberg27.162 (1)28.727 (2)28.351 (2)
Valtteri Bottas27.249 (2)28.903 (3)28.453 (3)
Felipe Massa27.309 (3)28.907 (4)28.578 (4)
Kevin Magnussen27.514 (7)29.058 (6)28.742 (6)
Jenson Button27.519 (8)29.044 (5)28.771 (7)
Fernando Alonso27.447 (5)29.194 (7)28.789 (8)
Sebastian Vettel27.571 (9)29.238 (8)28.627 (5)
Daniel Ricciardo27.504 (6)29.280 (9)28.857 (9)
Sergio Perez27.577 (10)29.316 (10)28.956 (10)
Daniil Kvyat27.649 (13)29.399 (13)29.017 (13)
Kimi Raikkonen27.578 (11)29.384 (12)29.012 (12)
Jean-Eric Vergne27.665 (14)29.362 (11)29.072 (14)
Nico Hulkenberg27.591 (12)29.478 (16)28.996 (11)
Adrian Sutil27.761 (16)29.448 (14)29.379 (16)
Esteban Gutierrez27.734 (15)29.453 (15)29.243 (15)
Pastor Maldonado28.098 (20)29.862 (18)29.512 (18)
Romain Grosjean28.127 (21)30.002 (20)29.454 (17)
Kamui Kobayashi28.096 (19)29.766 (17)29.809 (20)
Jules Bianchi28.010 (17)29.975 (19)29.733 (19)
Max Chilton28.063 (18)30.160 (21)29.940 (22)
Marcus Ericsson28.406 (22)30.230 (22)29.916 (21)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes353.9 (219.9)
2Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes353.0 (219.3)-0.9
3Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes351.1 (218.2)-2.8
4Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes350.8 (218.0)-3.1
5Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes350.6 (217.9)-3.3
6Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari350.1 (217.5)-3.8
7Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari348.2 (216.4)-5.7
8Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoRenault347.7 (216.1)-6.2
9Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes347.3 (215.8)-6.6
10Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault347.2 (215.7)-6.7
11Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes346.2 (215.1)-7.7
12Kevin MagnussenMcLarenMercedes345.7 (214.8)-8.2
13Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault345.3 (214.6)-8.6
14Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault345.0 (214.4)-8.9
15Pastor MaldonadoLotusRenault341.9 (212.4)-12.0
16Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari341.8 (212.4)-12.1
17Adrian SutilSauberFerrari340.6 (211.6)-13.3
18Jules BianchiMarussiaFerrari339.8 (211.1)-14.1
19Kamui KobayashiCaterhamRenault339.5 (211.0)-14.4
20Max ChiltonMarussiaFerrari339.0 (210.6)-14.9
21Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault338.7 (210.5)-15.2
22Marcus EricssonCaterhamRenault334.7 (208.0)-19.2

Over to you

How do you expect the latest chapter in the Hamilton-Rosberg battle to unfold? And can Williams take the fight to Mercedes?

Share your views on the Italian Grand Prix in the comments.

2014 Italian Grand Prix

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Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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34 comments on “Nothing’s changed for Mercedes duo as battle resumes”

  1. Hamilton simply said: “They won’t be ringing in my ears at all.”

    I read that as Hamilton implying that the rebuke from Mercedes was directed at Rosberg – after all, responsible for the sole collision so far. So not his ears that got burnt. The team position remains the same as the start of the season: race but no collision, so for Hamilton nothing has changed.

  2. The ideal result for the Championship would be for the Williams to get in between Hamilton and Rosberg. The Williams looked very good in terms of tyre wear on Friday compared to Rosberg, who, with the lower downforce set up, may struggle more than Hamilton with tyre wear. Unfortunately though, that probably won’t give them much of a strategic advantage because the tyres are pretty solid.

    1. Massa’s starts can be devastating. Coming from 4th could cause problems for both Mercedes especially Rosberg.

  3. The start will be critical, stating the obvious, but at Spa Rosberg had the edge in qualifying with pole and had an awful start. That was the beginning of his “issues” in that race.

    In Monza Hamilton has the edge and pole, so if he has another good start it will help him stay in front of his strongest challenger and maybe keep out of trouble.

    I think Bottas and Alonso will be the best of the rest for the race.

  4. Formula Indonesia (@)
    6th September 2014, 17:55

    Rosberg will rise, and I think there will be a interesting battle between Merc and Williams, McLaren should comfortably ahead of RBR but they will get some threat from Ferrari

  5. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
    6th September 2014, 18:09

    I think that, providing Hamilton gets a good start, he’ll be able to pull a gap large enough to prevent Rosberg benefiting from DRS. After that he only needs to maintain a two second gap and the race should be his.

    Both drivers look transformed by Spa in the interviews before and after qualifying: Hamilton seems to have a bounce in his step, whereas Rosberg looks deflated. I think this will be the start of another string of wins for Lewis, providing he doesn’t suffer any problems with reliability.

  6. Hamilton has to use the tyre he flat spotted in q2 for the first stint. I foresee rosberg maybe making a challenge, in first 3 laps, how will it end? the start will be critical and will probably decide the race, whoever gets to turn one first. I foresee a Hamilton-rosberg finsh, 1-2 and 22 points championship spread after this race, I foresee a boring race on this track which seems to get more boring each year. monza is hyped up for its tradtition, but is actually quite boring beside the top speed and doesn’t produce many great races, but rather short races. now the are filling in the sand, it is starting to look like any boring tilke trick, only it has TREES which makes it more visually appealing to make up for the lack of racing.

    1. Hamilton locked the unloaded inside front tyre. And went on to set the fastest 2nd and 3rd sectors. I think the tyre will be fine…

      1. @Jake You probably know by now that kpcart always feels the need to say something negative towards Hamilton.

        1. But he does love Trees!
          And I can’t help but think how much more interesting Parabolica would have been with a row of magnificent Cypress trees instead of that new “Red Bull Run Off”

          Any wider through there and Seb will “High Five” the Tifosi in the stands


  7. Something has most definitely changed: Hamilton has broken his qualifying duck. That will only fuel the confidence that has cloaked Lewis the entire weekend. I had the always genuine honour of a chat with Lewis this afternoon, and I have never been more confident that he will manage to convert pole. A poor start and crucially reliability appear his only adversaries…

    1. Lewis certainly seems to have great form this weekend. He looks absolutely sublime through Ascari and Parabolica so I really can’t see that Rosberg will get close enough to DRS pass on any of the straights.

      1. @jethro – I was watching Lewis on the entry of Parabolica in FP3 and noticed he was perhaps carrying an extra 5kph more than anyone into the apex and yet still held it tight to the curb before opening up the lock; always on the perfect line. He is an utter joy to observe at close proximity…

        1. @william-brierty Interesting.. I noticed Alonso was relatively slower there this year from not exploiting the new ‘green stripe’ area. He was still driving it like it was 2010..

          I read that Lewis was consistently gaining two tenths in the Lesmos, which impressed the team, from Nico using up his ERS to simply match Lewis’ chicane sections. More rear brake bias also helped Lewis to charge more ERS, which were deployed for the Lesmos advantage. This discussion and the depths it goes into would be fascinating, and has not really been picked up on much this year.

    2. Nice @william-brierty! The only question in my mind is whether Lewis can win by 5 or 10 seconds… I can see him scampering away from DRS range before it comes out. If Nico falls behind Valtteri, then that’ll be a tough car to overtake, as they are the fastest two in the speed traps. I reckon Mercedes would probably undercut him past the Williams in that scenario, even if Lewis had the first call on pit strategy.

      1. @fastiesty – It was strange: I was in Mercedes’ hospitality half watching a rather processional GP3 and also watching a side-by-side of Hamilton and Rosberg’s laps on my iPad before the man himself appeared behind me and said “the first sector was shocking”. Although I have spoken to Lewis a dozen times before, the insuring conversation assured me that he’d be difficult to beat today.

        1. @william-brierty Cool.. hang around there enough and we’ll soon see you on TV, heh. Were you watching the Sky feed? I do like that analysis that Anthony Davidson provides on the Mercedes side-by-side laps. In that situation, I would have to ask if I could try and match him in the simulator…

          PS. As it turned out, Lewis won by 5 despite recovering! Imagine if he had been in front from lap 1..

  8. I don`t want to be in Toto`s skin tomorrow…. I hope he has a nerves of steel.

  9. I think this will be Williams’ best opportunity to win a race this year. Of course if the Mercedes drivers collide again, they will be the first ones in line, but I think there’s a genuine chance they can beat them on raw pace.

    In Austria, the Williams drivers were somewhat able to keep up with the Mercedes drivers, and based on Friday practice they should be able to match Mercedes again this weekend. As Bottas said, it’s all about how much pace Mercedes have got left.

    But even if Williams fail to reach their potential, it should be a good one too with the battle between the Mercedes drivers. We’ll see what happens at the start.

    1. @andae23 I hope Williams have learned from that race… if Bottas is with the Mercedes or ahead of one at the pit window, he has the capability to get the tyres to the end in good health. So undercut with him to beat or stay ahead of one of the Mercs!

      1. @fastiesty Exactly. Or at the very least split strategies! I’m still surprised how much Williams managed to screw up in Austria..

  10. For the first time this year, for the sake of the championship, I’d quite like to see an easy win for Hamilton, with Rosberg fighting and hopefully losing to the Williams.

  11. I’m really hoping that williams can pick up the win and Lewis in second.

    1. Ps Williams will finish 1-2
      Dont’t tell anybody, it is a surprise.

      1. @dutchtreat

        Is your crystal ball suggesting an incident between the Mercs?

        I feel Lewis is not going to leave any/much room if he’s first into Variante del Rettifilo ,

        I’m just guessing but it seems it’s Nico that must be the yielder if there’s any chance of carbon fibre damage ,
        and if he’s smart he can use his few kph later in the race if he gets trounced at the start

        I can’t wait till race time,

        I hope it doesn’t fizzle out after a few laps

        Decent race time for all us Aussies , oi oi oi !


        Wouldn’t that be

        1. greg-c My feeling is the the Merc drivers are going to be so focused on each other that Williams can take advantage. I don’t think Ham and Ros are going to crash.

  12. Is anyone else out there as surprised as I am at the competitive difference between Spa and Monza for the Red Bulls, I guess 345 Kph is all there is in the Renault PU, OK in Spa but 5-8 kph short in Monza and what a difference that makes.

  13. Does Monza have (time-wise) the three most evenly split sectors?

    1. Sorry, can’t help you there. I wish I could but I can’t tell the time of white, green and purple dots. Last year, though…

  14. I think Lewis and Nico will be fine for a few races. Then if Lewis catches up we’ll see something else from Rosberg, if the opportunity arises.

  15. Personally I expect some or all of the following to happen:
    -Hamilton is able to control the race from the front, Rosberg has a poor start.
    -Williams manages to mess up the strategy of at least one of its drivers, leaving that driver out of a podium position.
    -McLaren show what ‘going backwards’ really means in F1.
    -Alonso fights, but falls back a few places (relatively to the places he’ll gain from McLaren and one of the Williamses). Raikkonen has a decent recovery drive to score some points.
    -The Red Bulls come closest to Mercedes and Williams, Ricciardo manages to get in front of Vettel in the race again.
    – Perez falls outside of the points. Hulkenberg will be on the edge of 10th.
    -Toro Rosso will fail to score.
    -Sauber will stay in front of Lotus and that’s pretty much it. I expect Gutierrez to retire with a mechanical failure, again.
    -Lotus will face 2 DNFs.
    -Marussia will take part in the race.
    -Caterham will somehow manage to disappoint, even though people don’t expect anything from them.

  16. Assuming no (or equal) engine penalties or failures, and assuming Mercedes dominance, Rosberg has little to worry about except the “double points” last GP. First to second is seven points, so — four races plus one point ahead, seven to go, he’s statistically WDC. But, let’s see…

    1. @paul-a Well both cars have gone wrong this weekend, and there’ve been quite a few problems through the season, so it’s probably odds-on at least one Mercedes car failing in a race before the end of the season.

      On top of that if we cast our minds back to after Spain- Nico was looking pretty thoroughly out-performed. If Lewis gets on another roll then how will Rosberg be feeling at say Austin? His lead shrivelled to 1 solitary point after 4 defeats and everyone saying basically Hamilton is the deserving champion?

      So I don’t see Rosberg as comfortable at all. He needs a couple of wins on merit I reckon.

  17. Raikkonen on Podium :)

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