Hamilton: Small gap to Ferrari 'definitely surprising'

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Lewis Hamilton says the gap between himself and pacesetter Charles Leclerc after Friday's FP2 session was smaller than anticipated, leaving him hopeful that that Mercedes will be able to fight Ferrari at Monza.

The Scuderia is seen as the outright favourite to win this weekend's Italian Grand Prix thanks to Monza's ultra-fast layout which caters to the qualities of Ferrari's low-downforce and top speed characteristics.

Yet Hamilton ended Friday's afternoon practice just 0.068s behind local hero Leclerc.

"Not a massive amount different to how it was in the last race," Hamilton said. "

"Obviously, they [Ferrari] are quite quick in a straight line. We're quite strong, I think, on race pace, but actually perhaps a little bit closer potentially on single-lap pace.

"So it looks like we may have a fight.

"It definitely is surprising - but honestly I just didn't know what to expect this weekend, apart from them being quick on the straight, which they are," added the five-time world champion.

"But there's enough corners in which we're able to gain it back, they're not really that quick through the corners, so it kind of balances out.

"I still think it's going to be a really hard race, but we are on a similar level, which is quite nice."

Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas trailed Leclerc by 0.369s, but the Finn was happy overall with his day's work.

"I didn't have a really good tow on my quickest lap, otherwise [it] felt good," he said.

"And pretty positive on the long runs, so with the higher-fuel runs at the end I had a good feeling and good pace."

"We knew coming here that they [Ferrari] are going to be strong, but it didn't look for sure any worse than Spa for us, so for sure we have a good chance this weekend."

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