Italian GP | Rosberg tops FP1 following Massa’s retirement

Italian Grand Prix opening practice topped by Nico Rosberg.

Monza, the Temple of Speed and the scene of Schumacher’s and now Massa’s Formula One retirement, marked the start of the 2016 Italian Grand Prix with Rosberg fastest. 

Before a wheel was turned or the wind brushed off a Halo, Massa met the media in the Williams motorhome to announce his retirement from Formula One.

The Thursday briefing marked 10 years since Schumacher did the same, and announced he would retire from Formula One at the end of the season. The move by the seven-time champion allowed Massa to stay on at the Italian firm following the acquisition of Kimi Raikkonen.

Massa: “Ten years on from that day, and in the same paddock, I decided to announce my decision.”

Massa will now see out the remainder of the season with Williams. Before his farewell in Abu Dhabi opens the door to a new challenger arriving at Williams and a new challenge at the Brazilian’s feet.

For the first race in Massa’s farewell run, Felipe was forced to see out the opening half of the first practice session with a turbo issue. During his installation lap, the team noticed Massa had a boost issue – leading the team to change his turbocharger before he could return to the track.

Meanwhile, Jenson Button lapped the Monza straights to set the first time of the session with a 1:28.922. For Jenson’s early running, his McLaren was fitted with one of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection variants as further testing was carried out.

Like Jenson, Verstappen and Perez joined the testing programme as the duo ran a ‘Halo’ variant on their respective Red Bull and Force India.

Haas and Ferrari came to Italy with upgrades of their own. With Haas running a double-crinkle rear-wing, while Ferrari has brought an upgraded power unit.

The Ferrari upgrade is not yet available to their customer teams. However, the upgrades come as Ferrari spend their final credits of the season. With the upgrade not available to customer teams due to a different engine cycle.

In addition to further Halo testing, Pirelli brought the prototype soft tyres used in Belgium to Italy. The prototype soft tyres were heavily used in the opening prat

The prototype soft tyres were heavily used in the opening practice session here in Monza. With Hamilton and Rosberg running the rubber as they improved on Button’s early benchmark.

When Mercedes hit the front, Hamilton’s gains over Button meant he was lapping up on the 2015 FP1 benchmark after 13 minutes of running. Setting a 1:24.123 lap while on the prototype tyres.

Rosberg then improved the benchmark twice following a change to supersoft tyres. With Nico gaining heavily, before Lewis edged the Belgian GP winner by eight-thousandths of a second. Lewis’ gains represented an improvement of half a second between the two compounds.

Hamilton’s gains, however, were not enough to retain the top spot following a change onto the standard soft compound tyres. With Rosberg regaining P1 by six-tenths of a second – to which, Hamilton reduced to two-tenths.

Early into the first practice session, and while lapping slower than his team-mate, Lewis was told: “Nico is quicker in the middle sector, looks like the Lesmos need a bit of work”. This radio message was supported by the best sector times at the time, with Hamilton quickest in the first and final sectors – while Nico had the edge through sector two.

Behind the tw0 pace setting Silver Arrows came the two Ferrari’s, with Vettel trailing Raikkonen by three-tenths.

Vettel had the upper hand over his Finnish team-mate for a majority of the session, with Perez running in fourth splitting the Ferrari’s. Kimi, though, moved into third late on.

Like Raikkonen, Kvyat was able to improve on his personal best time late into the session. While for Daniil, his session had been poor up until his personal best lap – running in last place, over four seconds off the pace.

Joining in on the FP1 action was Alfonso Celis in place of Nico Hulkenberg. While at Renault, no driver changes were made following Kevin Magnussen receiving the medical all clear after his heavy Belgian GP crash.

At McLaren, late worries for Alonso regarding his gearbox led to the team calling for Fernando to box. The call to box came after the Spaniard asked his team to check for any issues.

Pos Driver Laps Time Gap
1 Nico Rosberg 37 1’22.959
2 Lewis Hamilton 36 1’23.162 0.203
3 Kimi Raikkonen 16 1’24.047 1.088
4 Sebastian Vettel 17 1’24.307 1.348
5 Sergio Perez 32 1’24.650 1.691
6 Romain Grosjean 17 1’24.763 1.804
7 Valtteri Bottas 37 1’24.785 1.826
8 Max Verstappen 25 1’24.982 2.023
9 Esteban Gutierrez 19 1’25.113 2.154
10 Daniel Ricciardo 17 1’25.120 2.161
11 Jenson Button 23 1’25.351 2.392
12 Alfonso Celis Jr. 30 1’25.367 2.408
13 Fernando Alonso 14 1’25.507 2.548
14 Felipe Massa 18 1’25.840 2.881
15 Marcus Ericsson 20 1’25.853 2.894
16 Carlos Sainz Jr. 20 1’25.973 3.014
17 Daniil Kvyat 20 1’26.074 3.115
18 Esteban Ocon 30 1’26.391 3.432
19 Felipe Nasr 21 1’26.439 3.48
20 Pascal Wehrlein 28 1’26.762 3.803
21 Jolyon Palmer 35 1’26.811 3.852
22 Kevin Magnussen 32 1’26.956 3.997