The Infiniti Red Bull Racing team were expected to struggle compared to the Mercedes-powered teams at Monza, but much like at Spa-Francorchamps two weeks ago, the Austrian team have continued to improve their car and were closer to the front than they originally believed possible.
Sebastian Vettel finished in the top seven in both sessions, much closer to the two Mercedes cars up front than expected, while Daniel Ricciardo recovered from a mechanical issue in FP1 to finish tenth in the second session, just over two tenths of a second slower than his team-mate.
Vettel was sixth in the first session and seventh in the second, and was positive that he had a problem-free Friday. He believes the team have made a good start to the weekend and he hopes to build on that start on Saturday and into the race on Sunday.
“It was quite slippery out on track; this year’s cars are down on grip and we have minimum downforce in Monza,” said Vettel. “It was a good day for us, we didn’t have any problems and were able to do a lot of laps and test some things. It’s important to get Friday right in order to be able to build on that for the rest of the weekend.
“The tyres mean it should be a one stop race on Sunday, but we will see. I think some struggled to get them to work; there’s not so much different between the medium and hard tyres here. I think tomorrow should be better, as it should be warmer and the track will start rubbering in a bit. I felt a bit more in charge of the car today.”
Team-mate Ricciardo was unfortunately to have an engine issue during the morning session that limited his track time to twelve laps, but was happier in the afternoon to get some decent running in and to place inside the top ten.
“We didn’t get much running this morning due to an engine issue, but it was okay and we recovered well in the afternoon,” said Ricciardo. “The track’s always fun here, for a track with so few corners it’s very challenging and with the low downforce braking it’s very difficult.
“Obviously we want to be a bit further up, but I think we can chip away at it tomorrow, the Mercedes will be quick, but if we can sneak into the top 5 in qualifying then we’ll have a good crack at the race. Getting temperature into the tyres is tricky, especially for the first timed lap.”