2016 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix: Free Practice Report
Sahara Force India completed a busy practice programme in Monza with Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Alfonso Celis covering a combined total of 144 laps in preparation for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
Nico Hülkenberg       VJM09-03
FP1:     Did not take part
FP2:     1:24.587            (P12)    40 laps
Nico: “It’s been a relatively short Friday for me, being in the car for FP2 only; but the afternoon went to plan and it was interesting to see our pace during the long runs. We managed some good runs and the team should have plenty of data to work with tonight. At this stage, I am not as happy as I would like to be with the car: I am still struggling a bit with the balance, so we need to improve things. We need to find some more harmony in the car to get us in better shape for tomorrow.”
Sergio Perez              VJM09-02
FP1:     1:24.650        (P5)          32 laps
FP2:     1:24.653        (P13)        42 laps
Sergio: “I don’t think today went as well as we thought it would. The balance of the car is still not where I want it to be so we need to understand why that is the case. There are still a couple of tenths we can find and that should be a good starting point. The times show the battle in the midfield is even closer than usual, so we need to keep pushing to come out on top. In the morning session I had a chance to try the Halo for the first time. It was just an installation lap, but I didn’t feel it gave me any problems with visibility. Getting out of the car is a bit more of a struggle, but it will be interesting to see how this technology develops over time.”
Alfonso Celis       VJM09-03
FP1:     1:25.367            (P12)    30 laps
FP2:     Did not take part
Alfonso: “I am really happy about how the day went. It was an honour to be able to drive in Monza – it’s a place with such an incredible history. The most important thing, for me, is to keep showing the team that I am progressing and not making mistakes. As always, the priority is to bring the car home in one piece, but every time I get in the car my confidence increases and I can push a little more. Monza is not an easy track to drive, even though the car is very good, especially if you are not in the car every other weekend. You have very high speeds, especially on a light downforce set-up, and trying not to lock the brakes at the end of the straights is a challenge. Every time you go out it’s a compromise between pushing hard and looking after the car, but I am happy with my performance and I am pleased the team is satisfied with it.”
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal
“We always see a very tight grid in Monza and today’s practice times suggest the same will be true this year. There is very little to choose between the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh fastest teams, so there is a lot riding on the qualifying session tomorrow. Today was fairly routine: we worked through our programme, gathered the tyre data we needed on all three compounds and have to make some important decisions tonight on how to approach the weekend. We ran Alfonso in place of Nico this morning and he did a very good job once again. Nico and Sergio were not especially happy with the car balance this afternoon, so we made a few set-up changes to resolve those issues – but, as often happens, to improve one area involves a compromise somewhere else. That said, we will do our homework; make the changes required to improve, and we will be working hard to secure our place in Q3 tomorrow.”