Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2015

Hamilton sets searing pace in first practice

2015 Italian Grand Prix first practice

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2015Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes was over a second and a half quicker than anything their team’s rivals could produce in the first practice session for the Italian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel had a brief spin at the Rettifilio chicane as he tried to reduce Mercedes’ crushing margin at Ferrari’s home track.

Hamilton’s best lap 1’24.670 was also more than a second and a half quicker than the best time seen in the same session last year, thanks in part to the softer tyres Pirelli has brought to this weekend’s race.

Force India had both their cars in the top five, albeit around two seconds off the pace of the factory Mercedes. Kimi Raikkonen was fractionally slower after complaining about poor braking performance during his final run.

The quickest Red Bull was 2.25s slower than the Mercedes, followed by the two Williams drivers. Felipe Massa had a scruffy end to the session, getting out of shape at the exit of Lesmo 2 then running wide at the exit of Ascari.

Pastor Maldonado made it seven Mercedes-powered cars out of eight in the top ten. Only Jolyon Palmer, driving in place of Romain Grosjean as usual, was in the bottom half of the field.

It was a troubled session for Toro Rosso. Carlos Sainz Jnr spun off at Parabolica, bringing out the red flags after getting stuck in the gravel. Earlier on he had complained about a gearbox problem in his car. Max Verstappen also found his car struggling for traction at the last corner on the track.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’24.67025
26Nico RosbergMercedes1’25.1330.46322
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1’26.2581.58817
427Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’26.6121.94219
511Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’26.7302.06029
67Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’26.7832.11316
73Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’26.9222.25227
819Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’26.9362.26622
977Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’27.0752.40525
1013Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Mercedes1’27.1182.44828
1112Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’27.2322.56221
1226Daniil KvyatRed Bull-Renault1’27.2752.60529
139Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’27.4542.78417
1433Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Renault1’27.5912.92127
1530Jolyon PalmerLotus-Mercedes1’27.6692.99928
1655Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Renault1’27.9073.2378
1714Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’28.0233.35311
1822Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’28.4233.75312
1928Will StevensManor-Ferrari1’29.8535.18322
2098Roberto MerhiManor-Ferrari1’29.9115.24112

First practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’24.670

+0.463 Nico Rosberg – 1’25.133

+1.588 Sebastian Vettel – 1’26.258

+1.942 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’26.612

+2.060 Sergio Perez – 1’26.730

+2.113 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’26.783

+2.252 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’26.922

+2.266 Felipe Massa – 1’26.936

+2.405 Valtteri Bottas – 1’27.075

+2.448 Pastor Maldonado – 1’27.118

+2.562 Felipe Nasr – 1’27.232

+2.605 Daniil Kvyat – 1’27.275

+2.784 Marcus Ericsson – 1’27.454

+2.921 Max Verstappen – 1’27.591

+2.999 Jolyon Palmer – 1’27.669

+3.237 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’27.907

+3.353 Fernando Alonso – 1’28.023

+3.753 Jenson Button – 1’28.423

+5.183 Will Stevens – 1’29.853

+5.241 Roberto Merhi – 1’29.911

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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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54 comments on “Hamilton sets searing pace in first practice”

  1. Those visual gaps are particularly poignant this time: Mercedes – midfield – Manor, nicely symmetrical.

    1. Slight modification.

      Its Lewis – Nico – Midfield – Manor.. :)

  2. Am I right in saying that FP1 lap was only 0.4 off last years pole and the chances are Mercedes weren’t running full power as its only FP1

    1. @bezza695 Almost: Pole last year was a 1’24.190.

      Food for thought for those predictions

  3. Manor struggling more than usual with their old power units: 6.12% off the pace. Still the 107% rule shouldn’t be a problem.

    1. I didn’t see them on track, but might not lack of a real lower-drag package be part of the reason for them being so far off? Of course, the 2s gap from HAM already puts everyone 2% down anyway (half a second is a bit over half a percent of laptime).

      1. 1 lap ≈ 84 seconds
        84 / 100 = 0.840 seconds ≈ 1%

    2. @keithcollantine They could have scrapped the 107% rule in 2010. Has there once been a race where they weren’t inside the rule AND were not allowed to race…

      1. That doesn’t mean the rule should be scrapped. Think HRT fell outside it a couple times when they did their pre-season testing during the first few races of the year.

  4. Gonna be a snoozefest. Mercedes is 2 seconds faster with harder compound.

    STR has the best car they have ever had, but looking at their times here you wouldn’t think they won the race here 7 years ago.

    1. The cameras will be on the Ferraris, no worries.

      1. Yeah? How much of Ferrari did you see in FP1? Doesn’t really matter who they show during the weekend anyway. I’m talking about the 2 second difference between the fastest car and the second fastest.

        1. I saw quite a lot of the Ferraris. We have six drivers and three teams in the 1’26’s, and Soft tyres, so I’m looking forward to some great racing, personally.

          1. Well if that’s your understanding of a good race, you must have had a lot of fun in 2011 and 2013-second half.

          2. My understanding goes beyond who wins, is all. We happen to know the best car/driver combo this year already, make the adjustment. The cameras aren’t going to follow Hamilton much are they? Watch the rest of the field, or something else. There are always options :)

          3. Who cares who comes 2nd or 3rd really?

        2. Fans of motor racing as a sport, @oya. If you’re only interested in the winner then the season is over already, and so probably is 2016. Ferrari will be catching up then Mercedes will leap ahead again with the new cars for 2017. And 2018. You are doomed!! Try something else dude.

          1. Don’t you think that’s the problem? 2016 season is over ALREADY and it hasn’t even STARTED yet!

    2. STR won in the rain back then if I remember correctly. No chance on rain at raceday, but the qualification could be visited by showers… fingers crossed! It’s the only way to save this F1 weekend!

    3. Riley "The Hammer" Smith
      4th September 2015, 11:17

      McLaren won 3 years ago… :)

      I agree with everything you said.

  5. Hamilton vs Vettel = Button vs Merhi
    Ferrari compared to Mercedes is like Manor compared to McLaren.

    1. Harsh Hamilton is better then Mehri surely?

      1. What’s drivers got to do with anything? And how would you know “surely” Mehri is better than Hamilton or not? That doesn’t have anything to do with what I’ve said anyway. You feel free to “prove” Hamilton is better than Mehri in any case….
        I specifically said “Ferrari compared to Mercedes is like Manor compared to McLaren” to point out I’m not talking about the drivers, I’m talking about their cars.

        1. I don’t know please enlighten me, your 1st line is Hamilton v Vettel……so you were not comparing drivers?

          1. Yeah. Did you stop reading after the first line?

          2. if you’re going to give xylon a hard time it would be useful to understand how comparisons work.

            When it’s written LH vs SV = JB v RM, it is customer to equate the first person (or object) in the first comparison with the first person in the second comparison.

            In this case Button now assumes the Hamilton role and Merhi is in Vettel’s position.

            So Hamilton isn’t be compared to Mehri but Button. So you could say “surely, Vettel is better than Merhi?”

            But Xylon does clarify his meaning by comparing the cars.

            Maybe it would be clearer to say Ham/Mer vs Vet/Ferrari is like comparing Maldonado/Lotus vs Alonso/McLaren. It’s saying that it doesn’t matter who the driver is, the car difference is too great to overcome.

      2. It’s not even a comparison between drivers, it’s a comparison of time differences between two sets of drivers. And apparently he’s not attributing the difference to drivers but to their machines.

    2. Midfield v Mclaren = LMP1 V LMP2? (Mclaren of course being LMP2)

      1. More like: Mercedes=LMP1, rest of the field=LMP2, McLaren=GTpro, Manor=GTam

        1. That’s spot on.

          1. No, it’s not. No LMP2 car is anywhere close to 107% of the Audi/Porsche cars. Even the privateer LMP1’s have trouble staying within that limit. So if we must:
            Audi/Porsche ~ Mercedes
            Toyota ~ McLaren
            Nissan / LMP2 ~ GP3
            GT ~ F. Ford

        2. Haha excellent!

          1. Never going to get exact by time differences so F1 midfield would be Toyota level for me and Mclaren would be the single LMP1 car thats way off at the back mixing it with LMP2 but cannot remember their name.

  6. Mercedes used all their tokens and its showing.

  7. Martin Brundle: “Tyre facts for Monza. Pressures up 1psi front and rear, so minimum 19.5fr 21 rear. Blankets max 110C. Cambers reduced to 3 degree fr 2 rear”

    Yeah, Pirelli changed the tyre set-up limitations to decrease the structural stress on the tyres, because “the findings” “found” that Spa failures were caused by cuts… Right, right, makes perfect sense.

    Nothing less than I predicted of course. I have no problem with a manufacturer having some problems from time to time, If they are addressed properly, it is not easy what they do. But what I can’t stand is dishonesty, lies, this two-faced nonsense and the lack of responsibility in the public eye, always shifting the blame.

    1. Yeah. Changing set-up parameters is pretty much admitting fault. Good catch.

    2. That’s version 3, going into the weekend Pirelli were saying 23psi (front) & 22 psi (rear), then after complaints from the teams they reduced it to 22psi (front) & 21psi (rear), then after further talk with the teams the latest version 21psi (front) & 19.5 (rear), all before a wheel had turned.

  8. Good to note that Mercedes spent their remaining 7 tokens, and the factory cars run on their new engine already. We can see the difference. The other Merc-running cars still run the old specification.

    1. Yeah @spoutnik and they say this is mainly just preparation for next year. Scary.

      Safe to say Monte, Arrivabene & co will be campaigning hard behind the scenes for Red Bull not to get a supply.

  9. anyone clock any particularly high top speed figures?

    1. @sato113
      Merc hitting 218mph but remember they haven’t fully turned the engine up yet so there is still more speed to come, but the gap to the next car is daunting

      1. How is it possible that they are 5 km/h faster than next Mercedes PU’ed car? Ferrari is down 10 km/h. I guess they will not go on to race like this!

        1. I believe Merc are the only team to run their new spec engine at Monza.

          Surprised Williams haven’t taken it too given they’ve also only used 2 power units per driver to date.

          1. I remember Sky making a big deal out of Sauber not using new Ferrari engines in Canada. This time Crofty said “Mercedes want to test if their engine is working first”. LOL

  10. Merc still one sec ahead

  11. I didn’t watch FP1, so where were Merc gaining so much time? Their top speeds are only marginally better than the next best so I can only assume it was mega traction and acceleration out of the corners?

    1. Marginally better? Look again.

    2. @weeniebeenie

      as @spoutnik pointed the mercedes factory team is using upgraded engines, these are not yet available to the customer teams.

  12. At that pace we’d be looking at Hamilton possibly lapping everyone up to Vettel?

    Maybe that’s a new column we should add to the predictions on here, which car will they lap up until.

  13. Other Merc engine teams should definitely get this update now!

  14. i’m (desperately) predicting a 1988 style balls up. vettel leads home a ferrari 1-2 would be believable if raikkonen was any good any more

    1. Watched the highlights of that race on the BBC recently. Anyone who thinks racing that year was better than it is now needs to take off their rose tinted specs.

      The 2008 highlights though reminded me how great that season was. May have been less overtakes but the ones you did get were special.

  15. ILuvSoundtracks (@)
    4th September 2015, 14:07

    Well, McLaren and Manor would be sticked in the bottom row for the rest of the season.

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