It was a complicated Friday at the Italian Grand Prix for all the teams, as it was a case of keeping an eye on the weather to get as much dry running as possible to prepare for tomorrow's qualifying, when it is expected to be dry. However, the forecast for the race is less clear and could be changeable. Scuderia Ferrari dodged the rain that fell today, on its way to setting the first and third fastest times of the day with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel respectively. The times look very close between the teams and qualifying could throw up some surprises.
The first session began in the wet, with Charles and Sebastian running full wet tyres for their installation laps, before switching to intermediates. There were three red flags when cars went off track which limited the amount of damp track running. Towards the end, it was dry enough for slicks and Charles and Sebastian took to the track to set their best times. The Monegasque did 20 laps, the best being a 1:27.905 whle Sebastian posted a 1:30.507.
In the second 90 minute session, everyone was on slicks, allowing all drivers to use dry weather tyres and so Charles and Sebastian were able to evaluate all the compounds available, fine tuning the settings and getting to grips with the heavy braking requirements of the Monza track. They worked on preparing for the race and qualifying, which is when they did their best laps. Charles posted a 1:20.978. He was the only driver to get under the 1m 21s barrier, while Sebastian was third quickest with a 1:21.179. The later part of the session was given over to long runs and by the end, Leclerc had completed 37 laps and Sebastian 39.
Charles Leclerc: "It was a special feeling to drive for Ferrari in Monza for the first time. I could actually see the tifosi cheering for us from the grandstands while I was driving, and it is just amazing to be here.
"The day went quite well. While it is nice to be quickest, I don't think that we have a real picture of the whole situation yet due to the tricky conditions we faced on track today. In FP1, we were very competitive, especially on the intermediates, which is a positive. However, the lap times on the dry tyres in FP2 are not really representative and we have to keep working and understand where we can gain some more time. Our competitors are quick and we are still to see their full potential.
"The car felt good. In terms of race pace, we are not yet at the point we were in Spa. On the qualifying pace, we also have some work to do and we will give our all to do a good job tomorrow."
Sebastian Vettel: "The day was ok, but we can still get more out of the car. FP1 was a bit of a scrappy session, with all the teams heading out as soon as the light went green after each red flag. We didn't have the usual rhythm of a Friday, but the main thing is that we got some decent laps in and we know where our weaknesses are and what to focus on.
"For qualifying, we have to see what the conditions will be like, how careful we might need to be on the out lap, and how the tyres will work. Then we will take it from there. It is nice if you get a tow around here, and the priority is to get one perfect lap.
"Ahead of the race, you just want to improve the car and make it faster overall, because you need a car that allows you to have a good performance while also saving the tyres. We have some work to do, and I know that I can find more for tomorrow."
Check out our Friday gallery from Monza, here.