Bottas pips Hamilton as Mercedes stay top in Monza

Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas, Italian Grand Prix
ยฉ XPB 

Valtteri Bottas was fastest in afternoon practice at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza on Friday, ahead of this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

Bottas was a little over a tenth of a second faster than his team mate Lewis Hamilton's morning benchmark. Hamilton also improved in FP2 but he ended q quiet session 0.056s off Bottas' best.

The second practice ended with the same two-by-two line-up in the first six positions, with Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen ending the day faster than the two Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

However, McLaren displaced Force India in the running order. Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso were seventh and eighth respectively on the timing screens, with Esteban Ocon demoted to ninth. Williams' Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten.

After the morning's light rain, second free practice started in overcast but dry conditions. With rain still a possibility, the teams got to work straight away with the Haas duo of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen first on track.

Once the initial flurry of laps was over, Hamilton emerged to go top 15 minutes into the session with a time of 1:21.956s on soft compound tyres. That put him almost half a second faster than Bottas and Raikkonen. Vettel was fourth fastest ahead of the two Red Bull drivers, with Force India's Esteban Ocon seventh albeit over a second off Hamilton's pace.

Verstappen's first outing on supsersofts promoted him to third place, despite the RB13 proving tail-happy through Ascari. Lance Stroll also found that section a tall order: he spun round and sparked double waved yellows, until the Williams got back going in the right direction.

As the 90-minute session approached the midway point, Bottas went top with a lap of 1:21.406s which was half a tenth faster than his Mercedes team mate's latest. Vettel and Raikkonen also improved, demoting Verstappen straight back to fifth. Meanwhile McLaren's experiments in arranging a 'tow' between their cars saw Stoffel Vandoorne boosted to seventh by Fernando Alonso.

With the weather remaining dry, attention then turned to long distance runs on the supersofts. Mercedes actually called time on their session ten minutes early, content that their programme has been successfully completed.

Another driver losing time on Friday afternoon - albeit for less happy reasons - was Renault's Nico Hulkenberg. He managed just 14 laps before being sidelined in the garage with a hydraulic issue. By comparison, Force India's Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez both completed 43 laps after lunch.

Birthday boy Carlos Sainz was forced to pull off at the second chicane after he started spewing a trail of smoke and oil. The Toro Rosso was parked out of the way and didn't interrupt proceedings. By contrast, a virtual safety car was needed when Magnussen stopped on track after exiting the second Lesmo with broken suspension.

Toro Rosso's disappointment was compounded when Sainz' team mate Daniil Kvyat was ordered back to the pits with a problem ten minutes before the chequered flag came out.

Italian Grand Prix - Free Practice 2 results

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:21.406s 25
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:21.462s + 0.056s 24
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:21.546s + 0.140s 33
4 Kimi Rรคikkรถnen Ferrari 1:21.804s + 0.398s 34
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:22.409s + 1.003s 34
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:22.752s + 1.346s 22
7 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:22.947s + 1.541s 31
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:22.968s + 1.562s 31
9 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:22.977s + 1.571s 43
10 Felipe Massa Williams 1:22.985s + 1.579s 42
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:23.150s + 1.744s 21
12 Nico Hรผlkenberg Renault 1:23.272s + 1.866s 14
13 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:23.317s + 1.911s 34
14 Sergio Pรฉrez Force India 1:23.352s + 1.946s 43
15 Lance Stroll Williams 1:23.403s + 1.997s 36
16 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:23.567s + 2.161s 31
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:23.650s + 2.244s 20
18 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:24.253s + 2.847s 28
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:24.894s + 3.488s 39
20 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:25.295s + 3.889s 25

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