Mercedes Valtteri Bottas was fastest in the second practice session for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix. The Finn was .05 of a second faster than his team-mate Lewis Hamilton with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel third, they all set their fastest times on the supersoft tyres.
Bottas and Hamilton throughout the session appeared as they had a few tenths over the Ferrari, both on the softs and the supersofts when they were doing their race simulations. Hamilton led the initial pace as the track rubbered in, Vettel responded by going faster.
Then Bottas went faster than the pair of them but went Hamilton tried to respond to his team-mates fastest time however he made a mistake in the final sector going second fastest. The pace in the session suggests that this weekends race could be another close battle between the two.
Going into this weekend Vettel said that Ferrari should fear none of the remaining races on the calendar, despite several which would (on paper) appear to suit Mercedes.
None of the top three appeared to hook up a perfect lap, with Hamilton looking especially ragged at the Roggia chicane.
The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo retained their status as best of the rest with fifth and sixth, but they were ultimately over a second off the pace. There was a surprise as Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were both in the top ten.
Although the team had chosen to use the slipstream to tow the drivers along, so it doesn’t really give a real picture of the teams one lap pace. But it’s a tactic McLaren will use in qualifying to allow Vandoorne to try and get the best possible grid spot.
While that will help McLaren in the race as they will still be vulnerable because of the underperforming Honda power unit.
Mercedes power looks key this weekend as Esteban Ocon was ninth for Force India and Felipe Massa tenth for Williams. They will be expected to be further up the grid tomorrow, while their team-mates Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were fourteenth and fifteenth respectively.
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz finished the day eleventh fastest, but he suffered an engine failure stopping on the back straight after his Renault power unit blew after the second chicane.
Meanwhile, his team-mate Daniil Kvyat could only manage eighteenth after his afternoon was cut short because of an engine failure.
Renault was having it’s own problems, Nico Hulkenberg, who spent much of the latter part of the session in the garage. However, he was just under half a tenth ahead Jolyon Palmer in twelfth
The afternoon past uneventful session, a few missed chicanes apart. However, Stroll spun the Williams at Ascari, while Kevin Magnussen’s rolled to a halt after a dramatic (and most likely kerb-induced) suspension breakage in the second Lesmo.
The Dane finished seventeenth behind his Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean. Haas will be hoping that that doesn’t impact Magnussen for the rest of the weekend.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was nineteenth and team-mate Pascal Wehrlein was twentieth