The long straights of Autodromo di Monza play to the strength of the Mercedes powered cars, giving them a significant straight line speed advantage over Renault and Ferrari powered rivals. However, those who expected another works Mercedes sweepover would be surprised to find that the team's long run pace during FP2 was very similar to three of its rivals, namely, Williams, Ferrari and Red Bull.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton spent most of the second practice session in garage amidst an electric problem and with him having done just three laps on the medium tyre, his ‘long-run’ data becomes irrelevant. The focus hence shifts to Nico Rosberg whose long run pace was slower than that of Williams of Valtteri Bottas as well as the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.
"It seems that we are quick on one lap but on the long run the others were very fast,’’ Rosberg said after comparing his pace with that of its rivals after FP2.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the silver Merc won’t stand on the top step of the podium this weekend. The team has a habit of turning down the power on Friday, waiting until the qualifying hour on Saturday to show their two power.
As against this, Ferrari usually do lower fuel runs than some of its rivals on Friday, again providing an incorrect presentation of their actual pace. For the same reason, we see the scarlet red cars in top five or even top three on Friday but nowhere close to the top on race day.
One team that might well threaten the Merc pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in Williams. After being prevented from a strong result in Spa due to rain during qualifying, the Grove based outfit would be aiming to qualify higher than they did a fortnight ago and challenge for victory on Sunday.
Behind the quadruple, we can expect McLaren and Force India to challenge for remainder of the points. Both the teams were upbeat after practice sessions and it would be interesting to see which team comes on top. Both the outfits are engaged in a close battle for fifth place in the constructors standings with just two points separating them.
Toro Rosso and Sauber will have little chance of being anywhere close to the top 10 with a poor chassis and an underpowered engine holding the two outfits.
On a single lap, the two Marussias outpaced the Lotus’ of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, exposing the problems faced by the Enstone based team.The team has now stopped the development of their 2014 car with the aim of devoting more time to their 2015 challenger - a move that might well pay dividends next season.