Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Monza, 2016

Ferrari’s slim hope of stopping a Hamilton hat-trick

2016 Italian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Theoretically, there is one realistic way Ferrari could snatch a home victory from the Mercedes drivers, despite the silver cars’ 0.8s advantage in qualifying.

Rapid starts have been a strength of the SF16-H since the season began and the 600 metre-plus run to turn one at Monza is of the longest of the season. If the red cars can launch past the silver ones – perhaps aided by the softer tyres they will have on at the start – that could give them the whip hand on strategy. With similar top speeds Mercedes would be hard-pressed to overtake on Monza’s long straights.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2016
The tyre rules have strengthened Mercedes’ hand
As the Spanish Grand Prix demonstrated, when a team has both its cars in the lead and is under pressure from a rival team, the impulse to split strategies between their drivers to preserve a victory can leave them vulnerable to being jumped in the pits. But as the race is expected to be a one-stopper, Ferrari standa better than average chance of keeping at least one of its two cars ahead.

It’s a slim hope, however. Firstly it rests upon their drivers making Melbourne-style starts again. But the tyre situation weakens Ferrari’s position even further.

By setting their fastest times on the soft tyres in Q2, Mercedes will be starting the race on tyres which should last several laps longer. It’s striking that to them this is so clearly a superior strategy that neither of their drivers opted to use the super-softs in the hope of claiming an advantage over their championship rival.

In the event that Ferrari do get both of their cars ahead at the start, Mercedes could most likely extend their first stint long enough that they could see off a Ferrari counter-attack even though their rivals would benefit from the ‘undercut’.

The tyre rules, therefore, have again served only to increase Mercedes’ existing advantage.

Even the prospects for a fight between the Mercedes drivers seem slim. Lewis Hamilton has been substantially quicker than Nico Rosberg all weekend, as he was last year and the year before that. Although he flat-spotted one of the tyres he will start the race on he does not believe it is significantly damaged.

It all points towards a continuation of the type of race seen at Spa and predicted during the summer break: Mercedes easily asserting themselves over rivals whose thoughts have already turned to next year. A re-run of the second half of 2013, but with Mercedes taking the role of Red Bull.

Speaking of Red Bull, their expectation that this would be their worst race of the second half of the season is being borne out. Not only were they out-qualified by both Ferraris, but the Williams of Valtteri Bottas too.

The second Williams went out in Q2; Felipe Massa seems to have begun his retirement early. However he will take ‘new tyre pole’ just behind the two Force Indias, so the Grove team have a good chance of reclaiming the fourth place in the constructors’ championship they lost to their rivals at Spa.

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Qualifying times in full

DriverCarQ1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’21.8541’21.498 (-0.356)1’21.135 (-0.363)
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’22.4971’21.809 (-0.688)1’21.613 (-0.196)
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’23.0771’22.275 (-0.802)1’21.972 (-0.303)
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’23.2171’22.568 (-0.649)1’22.065 (-0.503)
5Valtteri BottasWilliams1’23.2641’22.499 (-0.765)1’22.388 (-0.111)
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’23.1581’22.638 (-0.520)1’22.389 (-0.249)
7Max VerstappenRed Bull1’23.2291’22.857 (-0.372)1’22.411 (-0.446)
8Sergio PerezForce India1’23.4391’22.922 (-0.517)1’22.814 (-0.108)
9Nico HulkenbergForce India1’23.2591’22.951 (-0.308)1’22.836 (-0.115)
10Esteban GutierrezHaas1’23.3861’22.856 (-0.530)1’23.184 (+0.328)
11Felipe MassaWilliams1’23.4891’22.967 (-0.522)
12Romain GrosjeanHaas1’23.4211’23.092 (-0.329)
13Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’23.7831’23.273 (-0.510)
14Pascal WehrleinManor1’23.7601’23.315 (-0.445)
15Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’23.6661’23.399 (-0.267)
16Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’23.6611’23.496 (-0.165)
17Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’23.825
18Felipe NasrSauber1’23.956
19Marcus EricssonSauber1’24.087
20Jolyon PalmerRenault1’24.230
21Kevin MagnussenRenault1’24.436
22Esteban OconManor

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton26.529 (1)27.586 (1)26.962 (1)
Nico Rosberg26.631 (3)27.697 (2)27.189 (2)
Sebastian Vettel26.710 (6)27.889 (4)27.288 (3)
Kimi Raikkonen26.779 (8)27.874 (3)27.367 (4)
Valtteri Bottas26.548 (2)28.163 (7)27.622 (7)
Daniel Ricciardo26.916 (11)28.021 (5)27.415 (6)
Max Verstappen26.947 (13)28.049 (6)27.383 (5)
Sergio Perez26.689 (5)28.293 (10)27.769 (10)
Nico Hulkenberg26.739 (7)28.309 (11)27.758 (9)
Esteban Gutierrez26.891 (10)28.214 (9)27.751 (8)
Felipe Massa26.657 (4)28.357 (13)27.939 (13)
Romain Grosjean26.958 (14)28.210 (8)27.911 (12)
Fernando Alonso26.962 (15)28.416 (14)27.895 (11)
Pascal Wehrlein26.890 (9)28.462 (15)27.963 (14)
Jenson Button26.926 (12)28.352 (12)28.069 (16)
Felipe Nasr27.014 (17)28.592 (17)28.065 (15)
Marcus Ericsson27.011 (16)28.784 (19)28.292 (18)
Jolyon Palmer27.087 (18)28.567 (16)28.262 (17)
Kevin Magnussen27.258 (19)28.717 (18)28.314 (19)
Esteban Ocon39.270 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes357.6 (222.2)
2Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes356.7 (221.6)-0.9
3Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes356.6 (221.6)-1.0
4Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes353.4 (219.6)-4.2
5Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes353.4 (219.6)-4.2
6Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda352.4 (219.0)-5.2
7Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari352.3 (218.9)-5.3
8Kevin MagnussenRenaultRenault352.2 (218.8)-5.4
9Pascal WehrleinManorMercedes352.2 (218.8)-5.4
10Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari351.9 (218.7)-5.7
11Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari351.7 (218.5)-5.9
12Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari351.6 (218.5)-6.0
13Jenson ButtonMcLarenHonda351.3 (218.3)-6.3
14Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes350.9 (218.0)-6.7
15Felipe NasrSauberFerrari350.6 (217.9)-7.0
16Esteban GutierrezHaasFerrari348.0 (216.2)-9.6
17Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer346.3 (215.2)-11.3
18Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer345.0 (214.4)-12.6
19Jolyon PalmerRenaultRenault343.7 (213.6)-13.9
20Esteban OconManorMercedes243.0 (151.0)-114.6

NB. Sector times and top speeds for the Toro Rosso drivers currently unavailable.

Over to you

Can you see any way for Ferrari to beat Mercedes at home? Will Esteban Gutierrez finally score his first points of the season?

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

2016 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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17 comments on “Ferrari’s slim hope of stopping a Hamilton hat-trick”

  1. I can see a rather boring race coming up if the start does not change the running order (such as the Mercs getting a bad start and dropping a few places). The good thing is that this is one of the shortest (time-wise) races of the year so it’s over quickly.

    One interesting thing this weekend are the slow top speeds we are seeing. After hitting nearly 380 kph in Baku, just over 350 kph seems rather slow.

    1. @kaiie
      ‘One interesting thing this weekend are the slow top speeds we are seeing. After hitting nearly 380 kph in Baku, just over 350 kph seems rather slow’

      I heard a similar remark from the Sky Sports F1 team, and I think it’s rather misleading:
      – Bottas’s top speed in Baku was the result of a racing-like situation in which he had a tow from another competitive car (Verstappen’s) that was using DRS as well
      – The official top speeds in Baku were much (much, much, much, much) slower than the 378/381 kph we’re talking about (334 in qualy, 340 in the race)
      – Contrary to what the Sky team seems to believe, the top speeds actually increased in today’s quali: from 354 to 356 kph
      – this top speed was achieved without a tow; the situation with Bottas and Verstappen in Baku was rather exceptional.

      =>
      The top speeds were actually a lot higher today than they were in Baku, and they’re going to be even faster tomorrow (possibly thanks to Massa having to overtake a few slower cars with fresh tyres).

  2. Saddes thing I’ve ever read on F1fanatic. A meteor could strike both Mercs off the front of the grid just before the race, that could happen too. Why not wish for that while you’re at it.

  3. And here I was sat thinking it would entail Mad Max knocking out a Merc or two (when he was lapped, of course!)

  4. For many, a good race is considered when Ham fails/crashes, Ves tangle with someone, or Fernando get through to top 10…

  5. More likely scenario is Rosberg making a clumsy, out of control lunge in turn 1 and taking them both out.

    1. Here’s hoping. Both merc’s make it past the first corner I’m flicking the channel. Also way to go on making it a one stop. Real nail biting stuff.

    2. Yeah, because that, unlike the Ferrari-jumps-the-Mercs-at-the-start scenario, has happened before …

    3. Likw Hamilton did to Rosberg in Spain.

      1. Like Rosberg did to Hamilton in Spain you mean? Or are you saying that it was Raikkonen’s fault that Verstappen blocked him in Spa?

  6. Starts have been troublesome at times for both Mercedes drivers, especially Rosberg it seems.The Ferrari drivers have been doing reasonably well on starts and are closer to the front row this race. Still, logic says Mercedes should lead the way to the first corner. F1 starts are not always logical.

  7. “As the Spanish Grand Prix demonstrated, when a team has both its cars in the lead and is under pressure from a rival team, the impulse to split strategies between their drivers to preserve a victory can leave them vulnerable to being jumped in the pits.”
    Such a scenario may, however, give them a 1-3 or 1-4 instead of a 3-4. However, in tomorrow’s race the strategic options will be limited and the Mercedes are very likely to “overshoot” the Ferraris when they pit first. Tire wear is generally not that much of an issue at Monza and therefore a Mercedes on worn softs may still be faster than a Ferrari on mediums (assuming that SS-M is the normal strategy).

  8. Well look on the bright side, if the Ferraris and Mercs take each other out at the first corner, it could be an interesting race!

  9. If both Ferraris block they can slow down the racing and expose Mercedes to RBR. It would have to be some very good team blocking though. They would litterally have to cover for each other, and allow the other to pass should it mean keeping Mercedes behind. It would make for some of the best racing seen in F1 though. Would be very difficult to achieve, but it wouldn’t take very long to frustrate the Mercs who would risk burning their brakes up and ruining their tires behind while having to defend from the likes of VES.

    It can be done, but it would have to be very calculated and TACTICAL driving.

    1. LovelyLovelyLuffield
      4th September 2016, 8:03

      OK, so both Seb and Kimi need the greatest manual start of all time, then hold up the Silver Arrows long enough for the Badger and Bottas to hassle the Mercs. Or hold them up long enough that either Merc driver gets too impatient and they bump into each other.

      This is doable, actually, but this being Ferrari, they’ll bork a stop and another car wins.

      1. I never said it would happen, only that it can. And I expect Ferrari to be competing for Turn 1.

  10. Rapid starts have been a strength of the SF16-H since the season began and the 600 metre-plus run to turn one at Monza is of the longest of the season. If the red cars can launch past the silver ones – perhaps aided by the softer tyres they will have on at the start – that could give them the whip hand on strategy. With similar top speeds Mercedes would be hard-pressed to overtake on Monza’s long straights.

    Yeah, but, you know… DRS.

Comments are closed.