Hamilton Sets Early Pace In Monza

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Lewis Hamilton was fastest during Italian Grand Prix practice on Friday afternoon. (Mercedes Photo)
Lewis Hamilton was fastest during Italian Grand Prix practice on Friday afternoon. (Mercedes Photo)
Lewis Hamilton was fastest during Italian Grand Prix practice on Friday afternoon. (Mercedes Photo)

MONZA, Italy – Mercedes continued its domination of the Formula One World Championship on Friday by sweeping the top two spots during practice at Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton out-paced Nico Rosberg by .193 of a second to lead the way. Behind them the Ferrari pair of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were the closest pursuers, taking third and fourth positions on the timing charts.

Vettel set the initial pace during the second practice with 1:24.436 on soft tires, with Rosberg going to second at 1:4.752 on mediums. Vettel then improved to 1:24.444 before Hamilton’s 1:23.732 on softs moved him to the front.

Vettel later went back ahead on supersofts with 1:23.254, before Rosberg went faster at 1:22.994 and Hamilton improved to 1:22.801, which proved to to be the fastest lap of the day.

“It’s been a really good day. Monza is always an amazing track to drive and the fans always come out to show their support,” said Hamilton. “We made good progress through our program across the two sessions and our long run pace felt good. We split the tire compounds between Nico and myself so we could learn as much as possible going into qualifying and the race and we’re looking quite strong. We’ve still got some work to do this evening to analyze all the data and prepare the car but I’m confident we can take the fight to the rest of the grid.”

The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were next behind Mercedes and Ferrari, taking fifth and sixth. Fernando Alonso put McLaren seventh, followed by the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, the American Haas entry of Romain Grosjean and the second McLaren of Jenson Button.