Free Practice 3 at the Formula One Italian GP in the Royal Park at Monza was revealing in a number of ways. Nyck de Vries impressed, Schumacher managed just 8 laps and Lewis Hamilton and George Russell saw a return of their woeful performance reminiscent of two weeks ago in Belgium.
Young Dutchman De Vries toiled early in the session but put in 21 laps only fewer than Tsunoda, Hamilton and Perez. On the medium tyre he was around 0.6s a lap slower than team mate Latifi but on the qualifying simulation towards the end of the session he was a mere 9/100ths behind the Canadian in the other Williams.
Given his lack of running in the current F1 cars compared to a driver in his 16th race of the season, Nyck de Vries has to be a shoe in for a drive in the 2023 F1 season.
Mercedes were buoyant following last weekends race in Zandvoort. Toto Wolff believed Hamilton could have won the race without the interference of Safety Cars. In fact had Mercedes pitted Lewis under the final safety car they would have still secured a P2/P3 their best of the season.
Yet once again, the Silver Arrows arrives at a low downforce circuit and is nowhere. George Russell was 1:105s slower than the session leader Verstappen and Hamilton was further back slower by 1:315.
The gap to the leader was not as shocking as in Spa where Lewis and George were around 2 seconds slower than the Red Bull pole sitter.
Toto Wolff claimed Lewis Hamilton could have taken pole in Holland had Perez not spun at the final corner and ruined the British driver’s final run in Q3
“It’s very frustrating,” Wolff said after the session.
“We were a tenth up on Verstappen and Leclerc, so Lewis was on for pole.
“We were ahead. Obviously it’s not the case at the end.
“I think he [Perez] pushed it a lot and lost it. It’s not his fault.
“You lose the pole because of a yellow flag or you lose the pole because of a few hundredths by running first. It’s always afterwards that you know better.”
Yet the reality was Verstappen was over 10 kph quicker down the straight and so Hamilton would have lost any tiny gain he had in the middle of the final sector as he pushed for the line.
Today, the Mercedes car is “badly balanced” according to Russell and appears to be slower than several other teams. Hamilton will start tomorrow’s race at the back of the grid due to an engine penalty because he broke his 3rd new engine in Spa colliding with Alonso.
Based on FP3 Russell could easily qualify behind Norris and Alonso as well as the Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s.
However George will benefit from grid penalties Perez and Sainz will take and could start the GP race in Monza P5.
This is hardly the new dawn Mercedes had been hoping for – in fact it’s another false dawn akin to those following Barcelona, Silverstone and Paul Ricard big upgrades the team brought to the W13 car.
Double stacks just hit different. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/YhYl9hk4bB
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) September 6, 2022