Nico Rosberg took advantage of yet more reliability problems for his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to go fastest on Friday afternoon at Monza. The German enjoyed a smooth second session as he finished top of the timesheets but his chief rival lost the thick end of an hour before rebounding to snatch second late on.
While Rosberg was busy setting the pace on the harder tyres, Hamilton was enduring a nightmare afternoon with his Mercedes refusing to fire up in the garage. Mechanics surrounded the no.44 machine which was apparently suffering an ICE problem with the Briton losing valuable track time, along with any momentum built up this morning.
Shortly before the halfway stage, Rosberg improved to a 1:26.225 on the option tyres, easing him into a half second lead over Williams’ Valtteri Bottas but Fernando Alonso slotted into second shortly afterwards, setting a 1:26.565 in the Ferrari. The first signs of life were now being heard in Hamilton’s side of the garage but there was still no sign of the second Silver Arrow exiting the pits.
Ferrari’s promising day continued ten minutes later when Kimi Raikkonen ventured out for his qualifying simulation, climbing to second just a tenth off Rosberg, while Jenson Button maintained McLaren’s strong start by clocking the fifth quickest time on option tyres. Half an hour now remained and finally, Hamilton was in a position to begin his afternoon’s work as he climbed into his repaired Mercedes.
With such limited time to complete his afternoon programme, Hamilton lasted just four laps on the prime tyre before switching to options but his first qualifying attempt went wrong as early as the Rettifilo, the Briton outbraking himself into the first chicane. Lewis made no such mistake on his second lap, although he did lose some time behind the Caterham of Marcus Ericsson, and jumped up to second just six hundredths shy of his teammate.
Raikkonen and Alonso took third and fourth respectively ahead of Valtteri Bottas who set a series of eye-catching lap times over the long runs in his Williams. Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel set identical lap times to end up sixth and seventh with Kevin Magnussen eighth, just in front of Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo and the two Force Indias.