The Friday in F1 Italian GP was relatively smooth and hectic for all apart from few moments across the two sessions with Red Bull likely to be ahead.

For the last of the European races, it was a smooth and hectic Friday in F1 Italian GP at Monza. The weather remained dry and drivers used different compounds and ran lots of laps considering that qualifying will see different tyre compounds in each session.

There were snappy moments for F1 drivers and some red flags too for Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez. The latter was the big fish as he lost control at Parabolica towards the end of FP2. Other than that, the Mexican had a good outing in both the sessions.

He is in the mix with Ferrari F1 pair with Max Verstappen showing pace in FP1 but wasn’t able to do so on the one lap side in FP2. The Dutchman tried different things and knows what to do for the race. The challenge may come from Ferrari for them.

Both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc looked good enough and ahead of their immediate F1 rivals. While the Spaniard could even show that on one lap pace, the Monegasque struggled a bit on that side. On race pace side, they know they are behind Red Bull still.

But they are fine to be ahead of others where Mercedes looked a bit off as they struggled a bit for the right balance. While George Russell did hook-up qualifying lap, Lewis Hamilton didn’t do it in FP2 especially on the soft tyre with work left to do still.

As for the Aston Martin and McLaren F1 pairs, the former only had Fernando Alonso to work with in FP2 after fuel system issue derailed Lance Stroll’s running. The Canadian already missed FP1 session to give way to Felipe Drugovich.

Alonso did well enough but he was in the mix with other cars where McLaren lacked a little bit in FP1. Both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri did manage to bounce back in FP2 with a decent showing and now they have to check on their straightline speed which they lack.

Perez: “I understeered off at the exit and tried to keep it nailed. I thought I had it under control but then I touched a little bit the gravel and that was game over. It doesn’t look too bad the damage; it was fairly small, and I don’t think we lost anything there at the end, two laps, so nothing representative in that regard. The positive is that the car is performing well, I’m feeling comfortable with it and I feel that we’re in a good position for the rest of the weekend. I really felt that we had a very strong Friday. This has been the best Friday in a while for us. We’ve been working really hard, I think we’ve found some positive steps in the car, so hopefully we can show it tomorrow and Sunday.”

Verstappen: “We’ve been trying a few different wing levels and I think we still need to analyse a bit what way to go. It’s sometimes a bit of a tricky thing around Monza. From my side, it probably could have been a little bit better, so still fine-tuning a bit the low-speed to the high-speed, but I’m quite confident of course that we’ll get there. Also, I was a bit interrupted in FP2 to get a proper read on a few things, [so there’s] still a bit of work to do. I think the running in general was okay, but in the short run I was blocked a bit in sector two, then in the long run we didn’t really get to do a lot of laps, so you don’t really get a good idea on it. At the end of the day, in the long run, that’s the same for everyone.”

Sainz: “It can’t get much better than that. It was a smooth day, to be honest. It’s great to be back at a track like Monza and from the first lap of FP1 to feel the car normal again after such a difficult weekend at Zandvoort. As soon as we put the car on track here for some reason it just adapted a lot better and it was a lot easier to set up and drive it per corner. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to be P1 tomorrow and in the race, but at least the feeling is much better. We put the car on track, it’s the same car basically, but for some reason it just felt a lot better, which is what puzzles me more. But let’s see tomorrow, I think everyone’s going to lower fuel tomorrow, higher engine modes and it’s going to be a bit of a different picture. Being realistic, also looking at our race pace, that’s when we started seeing the true pace of the Red Bull, they were clearly again three-tenths, half a second ahead in race pace, and over 50 something laps that’s a lot of lap time.”

Norris: “To begin the day not so good. Really, the only run we looked competitive was this final run, which makes us look very good, but I’d say we’re not as good as what it looks. I think with the other tyres, with the medium and the hard, we struggled quite a bit more. Also on the race runs we struggled quite a bit more than we did on the one-lap soft. It’s a C5, so it’s obviously a soft tyre and provides a lot of grip for one lap, which is always a good thing for us. I’m happy, we took some good steps forward and made some improvements today, but we’re definitely still not in a competitive enough place. It’s clear where we’re still losing… The majority of it is still in the straights comparing to some of the other cars. The Ferrari is unbelievably quick in the straight, but I think we always expected them to be quick here, they have a good balance, in the very slow-speed corners they’re always very competitive, and they’re always slippery in the straights. I think we have a few ideas and things to work on. We took a good step forward between P1 to P2, so maybe a bit more of that, even though it’s not as easy as the step we did, a little bit more in that direction would be helpful.”

Hamilton: “It was a relatively normal Friday programme for me. The reliability was strong, and we got through the work that we needed to, checking off the different tests we had to do. There’s lots of learning from today, and we will have a bit of work tonight to try and improve for Saturday – as we always manage to do. I know that the team will do great work overnight to improve the set-up and car balance, so that we can be quicker tomorrow.”

The Top 10 also had Williams in the mix as usual. The Monza circuit was one touted to be a good one for the team considering the straightline advantage they have shown. Alexander Albon did well enough on the one lap pace side but he says they have issues still.

Looking at Alpine, they didn’t show enough pace to be in the Top 10 which is a worrying factor for them going into qualifying. Pierre Gasly noted that they went through programme but they will have to select a better set-up to push themselves forward.

It was not a solid run for Alfa Romeo F1 pair either as both had different issues to start with in FP1. They managed to rectify it during the session but pace wise, they seem to be on the backfoot for both Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu.

There is some positives from AlphaTauri camp as Yuki Tsunoda reckoned they are on top of the mid-pack at Monza and will just need to analyse certain bits to push themselves into Q3. Liam Lawson had enough laps to continue his learning curve, while Haas is still wary about their race pace.

Albon: “The low downforce set up is difficult and I don’t think it feels particularly good for anyone, but despite this, the car feels okay. We’re doing an alternate programme to most people, just trying to make sure we understand the Medium tyre going into Q2 tomorrow, as this is going to be important in trying to set ourselves up properly to make it into Q3. There are slightly different issues I’m feeling with the car but nothing I can’t deal with, so we’ll look at these ahead of tomorrow. What’s important is that we’re in the mix but I don’t want to speak too soon. For FP3 tomorrow, we need to weigh up and see what everyone else is doing, helping us to understand where we want to focus on.”

Gasly: “It’s great to be driving in Monza again as it’s a very special place for me and it’s also my semi-home race since I live in Milan. On-track it’s been a pretty solid if unspectacular day for us, where we ran through a specific programme filled with plenty of learning for the team. The timesheets are of course not where we aim to be, that said, we know the areas we need to improve and hopefully tomorrow we will be in a stronger position. There’s a long way to go in the weekend and now we’ll analyse the data from today and find a good direction on set-up ready for Qualifying.”

Tsunoda: “It was a normal day today. We completed some test items in FP1, and normal running in FP2, and there’s still more car performance to come. We know our limitations and need to find a couple of tenths, to be able to be in the top 10. We have made a big step in straight-line speed, which we usually suffer with, and now we’re probably in the top part of the field. Because of the red flag, we only managed to do a couple of long-run laps, so we need to see how we go with them tomorrow. I definitely want to make it to Q2, possibly even Q3, so we’ll look deeper into the data tonight and be ready for qualifying.”

Bottas: “Racing in front of so many of our colleagues from our factory in Hinwil and with so many Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake shirts on the stands is special, we could feel the support from the fans and hopefully we can repay their love this weekend. Our Friday hasn’t been the smoothest, starting from a small software issue, which we fixed but which cost us some time in the first session. We made some progress in FP2 and we still have one session of practice ahead of us to get on top of the setup before qualifying. We need to get some work done tonight and make a step forward to be as competitive as we can be in qualifying.”

Hulkenberg: “FP2 with the long runs were cut short by the red flag, we had two, so they ate into the run plan a little bit and we don’t have all the information and data for Sunday yet. Over one lap, I felt quite confident and good in the car, but we didn’t really get into the high-fuel run, so it’s hard to comment. We know with the alternative tire allocation, we’ll have to see how that changes things. I imagine that will change the dynamic a little bit and make it more difficult for us to survive Q1. That’s the challenge tomorrow, but we’re preparing and getting ready for it.”

Drugovich: “I really enjoyed being back out in the AMR23 today; this car is just fantastic. I expected the stability to be slightly compromised by such a low downforce set-up, but I was pleased with how the car was handling and felt confident to push almost straight away. Due to the Alternative Tyre Allocation, we only had one set of tyres throughout the session, but we managed to get through the entire run plan on the Medium compound, so I’m pleased with what we accomplished. I spend a lot of time on the simulator helping the team with development work, so I think being back behind the wheel gives me a really good marker of how the car is developing and helps with the correlation between the two. I can definitely take what I’ve learned today back to Silverstone and continue to support the team’s car development. I really appreciate the team giving me this opportunity and guiding me through the session; it’s been a pleasure to work with everyone trackside again.”

Here’s how FP1 of F1 Italian GP panned out

Here’s how FP2 of F1 Italian GP panned out