Lewis Hamilton was left buoyed after improving to set the fastest time in second practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Nico Rosberg was quickest in FP1 as Mercedes dominated the opening session, topping the times by over a second from the rest of the field. However, Hamilton responded to set the pace in the afternoon session and he says he is encouraged by the progress made during Friday's running.
"This morning was OK," Hamilton said. "It’s hot out there but the track feels really good with lots of grip and I found a good balance in the end, particularly going into my second stint. So I’m really happy with it and we got through our run plan and we are looking very strong this weekend.
"It’s strange how one weekend you are stronger than another as a team, but the car feels good this weekend."
While Mercedes has struggled to get the most out of the supersoft tyre on one lap, Hamilton is less concerned by its race pace.
"The supersofts I think lasted longer than we expected, but what’s really hard is when you go into practice to replicate what you do in the race. But it’s always different depending on where you are starting and what type of race you are doing, you know? From first you can control the pace and be laid back a little bit more, but if you are coming through the field you are chasing more so it’s very difficult to predict how you are going.
"Me and Nico were exchanging times out there, but the supersoft gets hot and rears blister a bit. It’s a bit like quali in the last race, but it is going longer and the soft was really good. But I think it was also to do with balance and the balance on the second, soft run was really good."
As a result of his pace so far, Hamilton doesn't believe Mercedes is likely to be challenge throughout the rest of the weekend.
"I’ve not looked at the others, but yeah as I said the gap is looking bigger this weekend. Ferrari were closer on pace in FP2, but in terms of pure pace it is looking like it should be a good battle between me and Nico, but I’m not sure how close it will be."