Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
Vettel leads the way on Day One In Monza
Posted By:   |  06 Sep 2013   |  4:15 pm GMT  |  86 comments

Two time Italian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull gave a clear statement of intent to their competitors today as they topped Free Practice for the Italian Grand Prix by a significant margin, with team mate Mark Webber completing the clean sweep in second place.

Vettel sent a daunting message to his rivals by lapping 8/10ths faster than the first non-Red Bull car of Kimi Raikkonen. His long run times on both the hard and medium tyres looked impressive and consistent too.

Red Bull set the pace from the outset and headed the field by nearly half a second on the hard tyre. Following a KERS battery change between today’s sessions, Webber was out on track to join his team mate at the top of the standings.

With the bit between his teeth, Vettel was the first to take to the medium-option tyre as the session hit the thirty minute mark. And as we have often seen in the Pirelli-era, the faster laps came on the second flying lap following a cooling down lap.

After lapping 3/10th of a second faster during his first lap on the medium tyre, Vettel dropped off the pace for a lap before going for a final flying lap. He was able to find a further 3/10ths here and put himself well ahead of his competitors.

Webber made it a dominant session for the World Championship leaders with a lap time more than 6/10ths slower than Vettel. It shows signs of a strong weekend for Red Bull who, like in Spa, have found an excellent balance between straight line speed and downforce.

And on a Monza circuit that historically suits the greater power of a Mercedes engine, the fact that Red Bull holds a 8/10th gap over all others will be a cause of concern for Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus, although fuel loads and engine cycles mask the true performance gap.

Two weeks ago in Spa, Red Bull set the pace in Free Practice, before Lewis Hamilton snatched pole position for Mercedes. Hamilton admitted he was helped that day by changing weather conditions and would have been unable to take pole should the session have been dry.

It is set to be dry for qualifying tomorrow, and although we do not know the respective fuel loads, anyone beating both Red Bulls is likely to take pole position.

Along with Lotus, the Milton Keynes squad showed strong race pace during the race simulations, showing very consistent lap times over the distance.

Free Practice for Lotus was of particular importance today as they assessed a long wheelbase E21 in the hands of Kimi Raikkonen. In hoping to see a distinct advantage between this and the car they have been using throughout 2013, Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean – somewhat amusingly – set identical lap times to take third and fourth positions in the session.

However, their single lap pace coupled with their race pace will satisfy the Lotus team as we edge in to the business end of the season. They would be very satisfied with third and fourth places tomorrow afternoon after many disappointing displays in qualifying.

But keeping the Mercedes pair at bay will be difficult as Lewis Hamilton hopes to make it five consecutive poles. Behind Fernando Alonso in fifth place today, Hamilton headed Nico Rosberg as the Mercedes’ ended the day in sixth and seventh places.

Mercedes will be in contention for the front-row tomorrow but had a low-key afternoon session. Hamilton topped this morning’s FP1 but the onus turned to perfecting the car in race trim this afternoon.

The top ten was completed by Felipe Massa and the McLaren pair of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.

Massa will be keen to match the pace of Alonso this weekend, as any lack in performance on his part will be quickly pointed out by the Tifosi and the Ferrari heads which will be making an appearance during the weekend.

For McLaren, who hold a four point lead over Force India in the Constructors’ Championship battle for fifth place, their pace relative to the teams above was encouraging as Button lapped 4/10ths slower than Raikkonen in third.

Force India reserve driver, James Calado, completed his first competitive session in Formula One in FP1, lapping within half a second of Paul Di Resta.

He hopes to be back in the car for Friday practice in Abu Dhabi.


1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m24.453s 39
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m25.076s +0.623s 39
3. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m25.116s +0.663s 36
4. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m25.116s +0.663s 40
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.330s +0.877s 38
6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m25.340s +0.887s 39
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m25.367s +0.914s 42
8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m25.519s +1.066s 29
9. Jenson Button McLaren 1m25.532s +1.079s 42
10. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m25.627s +1.174s 39
11. Paul di Resta Force India 1m25.830s +1.377s 40
12. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m25.888s +1.435s 40
13. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m26.028s +1.575s 37
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m26.138s +1.685s 36
15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m26.224s +1.771s 32
16. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m26.385s +1.932s 43
17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m26.599s +2.146s 39
18. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m27.198s +2.745s 44
19. Max Chilton Marussia 1m27.548s +3.095s 30
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1m27.696s +3.243s 37
21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m27.771s +3.318s 38
22. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m28.057s +3.604s 32

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Hi James I watched the BBC coverage it was fascinating to see the thermal imaging camera used on Paul Di Resta’s car and how the heat in the tyres changes during the course of a lap.

However, Ive since seen on twitter skysports F1 posting a tweet saying ‘Take a look at our thermal imaging cam’ which was available on their red button service and was the same as the BBC cam. I am assuming it is actually an F1 produced camera as they all are and not owned by sky or bbc?

Keep up the great work!




Yes it is an FOM TV idea


Great to hear you doing FP2.

Just my view but you never got the credit you deserved after replacing Murray. Hopefully people are now starting to realise your knowledge and delivery has not been matched since. Yourself and MB in my view is the dream team and it was a great shame that this was not recognised in late 2008.


Cheers. They were good days

We move on and today it’s enjoyable too

Also enjoy working with McNish and Anderson in the comm box


Whoever is racing Vettel off the line is going to have to throw caution to the wind and be super brave (or reckless) and go for the pass at the first chicane. If Vettel pulls a gap out of the DRS zone, the race is pretty well ruined. Hopefully it will be someone who is out of championship contention. Come to think of it, that is pretty much everyone.


Ruined if Vettel makes it to the first corner first? why is it ruined? in your eyes only? if your boy Hamilton is quick enough then put up a chase then, its not the Redbull car, Webber will probably be off the podium so the car is easily beatable, just sit back and watch the genius at work, making everyone else look stupid, can’t wait lol.


Therein lies the answer to stopping Vettel on race day. Put the fear of a DNF in him. He has sooo much to lose. Maybe the others need tp sharpen up their front wing end plates 😉


Hmm… yes, I’ll use that word again, ‘ominous’.

Love him or hate him, legions, if he hasn’t proven that he is indeed, very, very good, then you will never believe.

Facts are facts, 6/10ths! Over the team mate, mate?

Yes the car is good, but 6/10ths over Webber! Almost unbelievable.

He’s starting to remind me, dare I say it, Niki… well, that’s too much. But Vettel has been definitely the best driver since Hungary 2012.

That word again, OMINOUS. Ominous for an interesting season.

If he takes Monza, then goose is pretty well cooked, ain’t it?

I don’t think we’ve seen the most out of the long wheel-base Lotus, yet.

Maybe, we’ll get to, in qualifying; so you legions of pretention-distaining, Kimi-loyalists, let us all visualize purple, purple, purple, and that long wheel-base Lotus going, faster, faster, faster, and not only that, even easier, easier, easier, and a chequered flag waving.


6/10’s over Webber in Free Practice 2, not Quali, nor pay day, FP2. Other than that I agree with you, Seb is pretty darn good, bordering on awesome.


lol, enjoyed this one


Yep, its just the way it is. People need to get off the haterade. In the previous article on here Lewis was quoted as saying that Vettel is very good and noted that Vettel is consistently six tenths faster than Webber.


Lotus has shelved the long wheelbase E21.

Kimi has to start from scratch to set up car in FP3. Dang!


They’re not using the long wheel-base Lotus for the rest of the weekend, they want more time with it to evaluate it further at future race weekends.

unF1nnished business

There should be a rule in F1 where if a certain driver wins 4 consecutive WDC’s, he must then race for another team.


Up to the other teams to displace Red Bull. Having said that, they’ve benefitted from some of the most stable regulations 2009-13.

Mateschitz purports to be a racing fan at heart. If RBR are again top dog in 2014, hopefully he would want to pair Vettel and Hamilton together.




Hi James,

Great to bump into you first this morning. We had a really great day in the paddock meeting lots of interesting people and were fortunate to be in the garage with Red Bull during FP1 as well as receiving behind the scene tours with Williamsand Caterham.

It seems Red Bull have the edge on everyone again, but on our travels we bumped into Niki Lauda and he advised us not to right off Merc just yet as they have a little in the bag still. Lets hope Ferrari can get in amongst it also to make it a really interesting race.

We’ll be in the same place tomorrow morning, so hopefully we can bump into you again. If not, have a great weekend.


Great to meet you too. Have a fab weekend for your 30th and thanks for supporting the site!


i think the circuit has 2 chicanes and 2 hairpins and hamilton is so extremely good at negotiating chicanes and hairpins.

all that said, vettel was head and shoulders above the field today and alonso’s carried by the tifosis. so we will find out how all those ingredients will taste like at the end of qualifying and after the race.

i found out that prophecy is the least profitable profession and trampling on a person’s dignity is the greatest offense.


Erm I thought the track was 3 chicanes and if you could call the last corner a hairpin then only 1? or is my R factor simulator wrong? starnge this 1…


take one of your mums hair pins and compare it to the monza circuit to see any similar shapes on the circuit.


Where’re the hairpins???


hi james, i’d like to point out that 3/10tha, 6/10ths and 8/10ths are not written anywhere except here. they are written as 0.3s, 0.6s and 0.8s but pronounced as you wrote.


3/10tha is Italian for 3/10ths 😉


Was that comment really necessary? What a waste of time. Both notations are fine and make perfect sense.


At least ferrari can dedicate all resources to 2014


It’s Groundhog Day all over again. Looks like Hamilton for pole again tomorrow, followed by he and Brawn exclaiming about how amazed they are to be there.


I can’t see seb making yet another mistake in qualifying and giving it to Lewis.


And you writing the same post – do you just copy and paste?

Tornillo Amarillo



GUTIEEEEEEERREZ matches the Force Indias!

But MASSA only matches McLaren… 🙁


I’m going against popular opinion and see Seb on pole here. They still have some downforce left to play with by the looks and can make that thing a bit quicker in a straight line. I doubt Seb will have a .5 sec advantage come saturday afternoon though. I reckon it will close up some by then. Hope the RB’s lock out the front row and Mark gets a reasonable launch. At least the first corner would be interesting 😉

Good luck to your fav’ drivers / teams on sunday.


“I’m going against popular opinion and see Seb on pole here.”

That’s pretty much going WITH popular opinion!


Yeah, odds-on favourite with all betting houses I saw.

100%, barring some mech. issue, Vettel will take pole.


Tell that to the LH fans 😉


just a thought, the commentators (and many other rumours) say Red Bull wouldn’t meet Kimi’s wage demands and it’s the same with Ferrari at the moment. if that’s true how can lotus afford him, they’re much shorter on cash.


Bet Lewis will be on pole again…

Every practice is the same RB crazyness, and in the end Lewis smash it.

It has been this way in the last four races, at least.


I think you’ll find its Mercedes that will ‘smash’ it by turning the engine up to risky levels, Redbull won’t risk Vettel’s engines by doing them things, they did it in 2010 when they had mysterious Q3 only for Vettel to blow his engine at Korea and nearly cost him the title, but I suppose Mercedes have less to lose this season.


Do you really believe that Mercedes would put their engine at risk, to try to secure a shaky pole position?!? That’s beyond silly.

I guess that’s your way of discounting the ability of Hamilton to take pole in Germany, Hungary, and Belgium, all three of which Vettel should’ve taken by rights.

Rosberg could only grab P6 today with his crazily-turned-up Merc engine!

It’s easy to say Merc will take pole. There’s no downside for you (or SteveS, or Dave C, or Marcelo) to say it, b/c if it doesn’t pan out, most times no will call you on it. But I gotta say, anyone that thought that Vettel wasn’t the strong favourite for pole after FP2 is either lying to themselves, or not living in reality.

Same as with Belgium … if quali was dry in Belgium, Seb would’ve been a nailed-on cert for pole. Only the wet allowed Lewis to grab pole. In Germany and Hungary, Seb was not out of sight for qualifying. At Spa and Monza, he was.

The Spanish Inquisitor

Now Fernando will have too much time to dedicated to his new cyclist team . The season is over …

Game over.

Stack overflow.

Tornillo Amarillo

It remains 8 races and if VETTEL gets one or two DNFs the game is still on.

I suggest to be hard on VETTEL…


I’m actually betting on Alonso to have a dnf this time… has the thought even occured to you?


Vettel to take pole, Webber on P2/3 and in the race, Webber to have is customary start problems,

Vettel to run away from start to finish!

Lotus may play spoil sport for Ferrari/Mercedes in Snatching the podium.


Is Massive Attack Lewis’ favorite band or does he massively like another band? 🙂


Lewis seems to be a bit fond of Massive Attack, and afterwards he often does a little pole dancing 😉


This explains his frequent use of word ‘massive’ and ‘massively’


Well from the looks of it, Red Bull changed the design of the 2013 car to favour the low downforce circuits just like 2011.

Of course if you have a car that works well on low downforce circuits, this means you won’t be massively competitive at the high downforce tracks so we wait and see were the team really are from Singapore onwards.

Also a Sky analyst said that the unique corners of Eau Rouge gave the team a boost but at the end of Kimmel straight, the team was infact only 7th fastest.

Now seeing as Monza doesn’t have Eau Rouge, the analyst says we won’t see the kind of dominating performance shown by Vettel at Spa.

Having said that, in the past FP2 at Monza has usually been an indicator of who has got what e.g. 2012 ~ Lewis was top FP2 & FP3. 2011 ~ Vettel was top FP2 & FP3. 2010 ~ Alonso was second FP2 and 3rd in FP3.

As usual Lotus look good on Fridays only to fade come qualifying and unfortunately for the team, most people plan to make the one stop so they can’t catch anybody unawares.

Ferrari don’t look particularly strong but seeing as Alonso feels confident, maybe the team have a trick up their sleeve.

Mercedes have had their first trouble free Friday but the consensus is that pole maybe difficult this time unless Red Bull trip over themselves.

As for Mclaren they have filled the void left by Mercedes from last season i.e. that team caught in no man’s land, just behind the big boys and just ahead of the midfielders.

Williams’ Maldonado is beginning to stretch his legs against teammate Bottas from the looks of it.


Alonso confident? Don’t forget my prediction!


Red Bull’s balance between straight line speed and downforce has them propping up the speed trap tables again, not that they’ll care about that if they can take the front row and get away at the start of the race.

McLaren were slow through the speed trap as well, so they could have a difficult Sunday afternoon.


Vettel’s fastest over the start-finish line, slower in the trap. So their power curve out of Parabolica gets them down the straight just as fast.

JA, Benson was saying RBR produce more underbody downforce. How different could they be from others in that area? Ground-effect channels are outlawed, and you’d think everyone would’ve converged on the same solutions by now. Certainly wouldn’t think RBR would find a step-up in that area at this point in the year.


I reckon they’ve come up with several different under body’s/ trays for different circuits and the beauty about it is – Noone can see – copy it !! Undercover beast


Yes underbody is the key

They’ve been at it for years


But have they made a step up in that area lately, or it’s just now that they’ve opted to try dropping the drag from non-underbody downforce-producing elements? Scary to think what they could’ve done in previous years if they’d tried this then.


I hope it won’t be as it seems just now comes Sunday. It is very tight down to Rosberg, if you overlook Vettel’s time. I know it is a bit of a jump but, I see SV racing into the distance if he gets pole. We might have to be content with a great fight for the other 2 steps of the podium and if it was to remain as close as it was today. It could be a fantastic race. Many things can happen tomorrow and Sunday of course, so that fantastic race might include a go at 1st. Marc


It seems Monza is very much a “car” track (I remember Mexico being like that) where grid is made of pairs of team mates with an occasional intruder (maybe goferet can enlighten us)

Of course, for the race a lot of factors come into play: tyre management, brake wear, strategy, even fuel consumption, and the usual first chicane mess

But it looks like another VET runaway, even if it would rain, he has proved himself here in those conditions

Hope the Macs make it to the bottom of Q3 and do a different strategy, only chance of a podium for this season?


Yeah maybe Perez can do a……. Perez! Just like last year.


@ ferggsa


Sorry m8, I do not keep track of those kind of figures.


Unbelivable, in top speed range RBRs are the most slowest cars in the field, even by 10-11 km/h in top speed in comparation with fastest result.


Top speed isn’t as important as traction. Red Bull have incredible traction out of corners and they are also geared short meaning they are just incredibly quick.

The only true ‘power’ track where top speed ever mattered was the old Hockenheim; traction remains king for a good lap time at almost every track on the current calendar.


See boys and girls? You don’t need to most power or speed to win.

“2014 will be all about engine power”…my foot!


No doubt Hamilton will again gain pole tomorrow but what we saw today was Vettel domination on low and high fuel he is just miles faster than Webber and the other teams, worrying thing is the Redbull are bottom on the speed traps and if Hamilton does get to turn 1 first it’ll be hard for Seb to win the race, also they’ll be sitting targets for Alonso.


No chance. It’s just like 2011, RBR is short-geared. So even if he was beaten to the 1st corner (like 2011), he could take the position back at the end of Curva Grande.

Vettel is fastest over the start-finish straight, b/c of the short-gearing, which also means a lower top gear, and lower top speed. But he’s at a faster speed for longer than anyone else on the straights, for all but the last 10-15% of a straight.

I will be SHOCKED if Vettel doesn’t take pole, barring any mech. issues.

Pole time: 1:23.171


The usual pattern on a Friday, come tomorrow Mercedes throw caution to the wind turn the engine up on Hamilton’s car and he gets pole, as usual…


I think this comment from Gary Anderson tells us all we need to know: “It’s business as usual for Red Bull. Visually, they have the smallest rear wing of all the top teams but the car generates so much underbody downforce that they can do that and still keep good braking stability.”


RBR have the best car by miles

Game over

I do not know what usual pattern you talk about here. Lewis brilliance stopped vettel pole positions in the last few quali sessions. Yet RBR have improved the CAR massively after the summer break. SPA reflected the dominance of RBR

Gary anderson, Andrew benson and few others including davidson have clearly explained and confessed the fact RBR have easily pulled more than half second on their rivals.

It’s very clear RBR 1-2 unless the team screws up Webber like they did in SPA. Lotus Ferrari (Alonso) and Lewis to fight for final spot in the podium.


The team did not “screw” Webber at Spa. He just didn’t have the pace in that race, which probably proves he’s right to retire.


Looks that way, sadly. Any dummy saying the Merc’s are sandbagging by nearly a second should go throw $100 or even $10 on a Merc pole.

Canada, Spa, and now it looks like Monza … it’s as though someone said to Newey “it’s a trade-off between top speed or speed thru corners”, and he’s said “why must we trade-off? Let’s have both”.


if it was dry in spa he wouldn’t have got pole


I’m not so sure this time..



Where are we with the engines that each team has left? Given this is a power track, have some of these engines done a lot of mileage or are they “fresh”?

That Renault looks pretty handy here, and the same in Spa, where they said they might have trouble.

I think you might be right, that pole could be between the two Renault powered teams.


All Merc-powered teams are on their 7th engine; Grosjean’s still using his 5th engine; everyone else using their 6th engine. All new engines at Monza for everyone but Grosjean, from Saturday on.



Not last year, Red Bull Renault and Lotus Renault were on their sixth engine by Spa and didn’t take their seventh engine until Japan.


Everyone uses a new engine here from Saturday morning onwards


But that’s what I thought the last 4 race weekend after FP2 just for Mercedes to show some magical pace, its a power circuit I doubt RBR would risk Vettel’s engines but Mercedes have less to lose so expect a low 1:23 in quali for Hamilton and maybe Rosberg can be in the top 3 too, Alonso must be seething you can tell all is not right in his camp, maybe Massa can give him the perfect draft in quali so Fernando can be on the 2nd row.


After today practice, both championships,done and dusted !!

Thanks RBR and Vettel for giving me nice weekend to spend away from F!


It’s not his fault he is that good

Tornillo Amarillo

You’ll never know if it could be the most amazing race in history…

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