Mercedes continued to dominate the timesheets in the practice sessions of the Italian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg looking on course for another one-two in qualifying on Saturday, and probably for the race on Sunday as well.
Hamilton and Rosberg, after setting a searing pace in free practice one, led the timesheets in FP2 as well, but the margin from the rest of the pack was a lot lesser, suggesting the likes of Ferrari and the rest of the teams could give the Mercedes drivers a run for their money in Monza. The two Force India drivers – Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg – were third and fourth fastest in FP2.
"[Friday] was a good day definitely, a testing day in terms of our programme, but a good one," Hamilton told F1's official website. "I didn't particularly hook up the first two sectors this afternoon, they were definitely better in the morning. So, I'm sure there's some pace to find and I'll be looking through the data tonight to find it.
"The car is feeling good and the team are doing a great job but it's still very intense out there. Now we need to keep it together through the weekend. It should be close with Nico, as always, so I'm looking forward to a battle."
One man who could give Hamilton and Rosberg a worry or two is Sebastian Vettel, with the former world champion looking to pick up a win at the Italian GP with a third different car, having won previously at Monza with Toro Rosso.
"I won my first ever Grand Prix on this track, but this time it will be more than special," Vettel said of driving a Ferrari in their home GP. "Of course you always want to please your fans, but here it almost becomes a necessity when you see so many people dressed in red and waving huge Ferrari flags.
"There is still a lot of work for us to do, as I have massively strong competitors. So no promises on results -- only the promise that we will give it our all."
Vettel knows the two Mercedes drivers remain the favourites, but the German is also well aware that anything is possible on raceday. So, the key will be to stay as close as possible to Hamilton and Rosberg and ensure any mistake is pounced upon.
"We will do the utmost to turn things around and this track is one of the better tracks to overtake on," Vettel added. "As I just said, I cannot promise anything except that we will do anything to make our fans happy."
The qualifying session is scheduled for 2 pm local time (5.30 pm IST, 1 pm BST, 8 am ET).
Below are the TV channels and live streaming information.
|India||Star Sports 4, Star Sports HD4|
|United Kingdom||BBC, Sky Sports|
|Middle East and North Africa||Bein Sports Arabia|
|Germany, Italy||Sky Sport|
|India||Star Sports Online|
|US||NBC Sports Online|
|UK||Watch Sky Sports|
|Middle East||BeIN Sports Connect|
|Asia||Fox Sports Online|
|Italy||Sky Go Italy|
|Germany||Sky Go Germany|