Everything going to plan for confident Hamilton and Bottas

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Italian Grand Prix
© XPB 

If you want proof that Mercedes is feeling happy with how things are going at Monza, then the early finish to Friday afternoon practice for Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas spoke volumes.

The team packed up early at the end of the second 90-minute session - not because of any problems, but simply because they felt their work here was done for the day.

"It's been a good day, a clean day," Hamilton said afterwards. "We got the running done, we got through our programme with no problems.

"The car seems nicely balanced here," he added. "We just have some work to do to eke out a little bit more performance."

Hamilton finished the morning practice almost half a second clear of his team mate, and over a second faster than the Ferraris.

In the afternoon, Bottas took the honours by a narrow margin. But Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel had moved within two tenths of Mercedes.

"It looks quite close between us and the Ferraris," Hamilton predicted. "I anticipate it's going to be similar to the last race in that sense."

Last year saw Hamilton start from pole, but finish second behind Nico Rosberg with the Ferraris having to settle for third and fourth.

Bottas was also feeling confident heading into the Italian Grand Prix. He's now over his disappointment last week at Spa where he struggled for pace.

"I think it was a good day," said the Finn. "At least I have a better feeling than I had after the Friday in Spa. Everything started on the right foot.

"Initially in FP1 we went slightly in the wrong direction with the setup," he continued. "But we managed to change it around for FP2 and the car felt a lot better.

"We got our full plan done," he confirmed. "Overall it was a positive day. The car is looking strong, but obviously it's the next two days that count."

The team's technical director James Allison added that the early finish to Mercedes' Friday track activity was partly down to the weather forecasts.

"It was a slightly unusual Friday because the forecasts were quite pessimistic about the rain. Overly pessimistic as it turned out," said Allison.

"It meant that we put quite a bit of what we would normally do in the afternoon into the morning session. Considering the slightly unusual nature of the day, we're quite pleased with the way it's worked out.

"Both drivers looked fairly competitive on both the long runs and the short runs.

"There is a threat of rain for tomorrow, so all bets might be off for what we learned today. But it will be a dry race, so looking strong in the dry today is a good sign."

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