Formula One on Saturday will be all about the qualifying session at the Italian Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton targets a third consecutive victory in Monza. Having seen his lead in the drivers' championship trimmed down by Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in Belgium last weekend, the defending champion will be determined to get back at the top of the podium come Sunday.
To do that, a pole position will help things along nicely, and after being pushed to the back of the grid following an engine change in Spa, Hamilton will be confident of getting back to winning ways.
The Brit currently leads the championship by just nine points from Rosberg, and anything less than a win will see further pressure piled on the Brit by his German teammate. The signs of sealing a pole position looked good for Hamilton, after the Mercedes driver finished top of the timesheets in Free Practice 2.
"It's been a really good day," Hamilton said after FP2. "Monza is always an amazing track to drive and the fans always come out to show their support. We made good progress through our programme across the two sessions and our long run pace felt good.
"We've still got some work to do, to analyse all the data and prepare the car but I'm confident we can take the fight to the rest of the grid."
Hamilton and Rosberg were comfortably the two fastest cars in the practice sessions, suggesting qualifying is going to be a one-two for Mercedes. Rosberg, having finally quelled Hamilton's momentum with victory in the Belgian GP, will want to usurp Hamilton and take pole position in qualifying, just so that he can add another seed of doubt in the Brit.
The two Ferraris were third and fourth on the timesheets in FP2, so expect Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen to challenge the Mercedes drivers in the race, even if they might not really threaten the two drivers in qualifying. It will also be interesting to see how Raikkonen fares against Max Verstappen, who was fifth just ahead of Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in FP2, after their clash and exchange of words at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg could only manage the 12th and 13th fastest times in free practice two on Friday, so the two Force India drivers will hope to improve on that position and at least finish in the top ten in qualifying.
"I don't think it went as well as we thought it would," Perez said. "The balance of the car is still not where I want it to be so we need to understand why that is the case. There are still a couple of tenths we can find and that should be a good starting point.
"The times show the battle in the midfield is even closer than usual, so we need to keep pushing to come out on top."
Where to Watch Live
The Italian GP qualifying session is scheduled for a 2 p.m. local time (5.30 p.m. IST, 1 p.m. BST) start. Live Streaming and TV information is below.
|India||Star Sports 4, Star Sports Select HD2|
|United Kingdom||BBC, Sky Sports|
|Middle East and North Africa||Bein Sports Arabia|
|Germany, Italy||Sky Sport|
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|Middle East||BeIN Sport Connect|
|Asia||Fox Sports Online|
|Italy||Sky Go Italy|
|Germany||Sky Go Germany|