Hamilton & Mercedes Fastest Early In Italy

Lewis Hamilton led the way during Formula One practice Friday in Italy. (LAT Images Photo)
Lewis Hamilton continues to lead the Formula One standings. (LAT Images Photo)

MONZA, Italy – Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes continued to dominate the Formula One ranks by topping the practice charts Friday at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.

Hamilton set the fastest lap of the day during the second practice, topping the charts with a time of 1:20.192. He was followed by his teammate Valtteri Bottas, who clocked in at 1:20.454.

The Mercedes duo were the fastest competitors in both practice sessions, with Bottas topping Hamilton to lead the opening practice before Hamilton took control in the second session.

“The car didn’t feel great in the first session but in the afternoon, it felt like we made some encouraging improvements and it was much better,” Hamilton said. “We have a few more steps to make overnight and then I think it’ll be where it needs to. It’s quite a bumpy track here and with the low downforce, there’s a lot of sliding. You need to find the right balance with the bumps and between the low and high-speed turns. The field is typically a lot closer here, compared to Spa, as it’s such a fast lap and there aren’t many corners. Valtteri’s quick here, too, so it’s going to be a fun battle. It’s going to be interesting in qualifying, obviously we didn’t get our final lap in last year and I think the last corner will be a bit of a nightmare with everyone trying to get a gap, so it’s going to be hard work.”

Lando Norris overcame power unit issues early in the second practice to go third fastest overall on the day for McLaren. Pierre Gasly was also impressive for AlphaTauri, going fourth fastest to nip fellow Honda-powered driver Max Verstappen in fifth.

Ferrari continued to struggle after a disappointing outing in the Belgian Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc managed the ninth fastest lap, but Sebastian Vettel struggled to the 12th fastest lap after a spin in the second practice.