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Mercedes the best in practice for Italian GP

Sports Desk, Sep 4 (efe-epa).- Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) posted the fastest time Friday in practice for the Italian Grand Prix.

The Briton rounded the track at the Parco di Monza in 1:20.192 on the quickest of his 32 laps during Free Practice 2, just 0.262 seconds faster than Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Another British driver, Lando Norris (McLaren), took third place, followed by France’s Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri). While Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull) was fifth under sunny skies with a temperature of 28 C (82 F).

Spaniard Carlos Sainz (McLaren) finished sixth at the home of the team he will join next year, Ferrari, ahead of Russia’s Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri) and Canadian Lance Stroll (Racing Point).

Monaco’s Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), winner of the 2019 Grand Prix of Italy, took P9 and Stroll’s teammate, Sergio “Checo” Perez of Mexico, grabbed the 10th spot.

The man Sainz will be replacing with Ferrari, German four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, could manage only a 12th-place finish.

Hamilton, who has won the Italian GP five times, seems likely to secure the pole position for a seventh time at Monza in Saturday’s qualifying.

“It felt like we made some improvements from P1 to P2,” he said. “It is quite a bumpy track so it is about trying to get the right balance with the bumps and the balance between high and low speed, we have a few more steps to make and it will be where I need it to be.”

The 35-year-old Hamilton seems well on his way to a seventh championship in this pandemic-disrupted season, with 157 points in the driver standings, 47 more than Verstappen and 50 points better than Finland’s Bottas.

“Not a good day,” was Verstappen’s take after Friday’s second session, though adding that the damage his car suffered in a crash in Free Practice 1 would not be an issue for the weekend.

“The team fixed my car quickly during FP1 and I didn’t have any effects from that in FP2 so there are no concerns there,” he said.

Vettel, meanwhile, complained again about the performance of his car.

“The car is difficult to drive, but like I said, it’s not the first time,” he said. “It’s a handful but it’s very difficult to get everything right, to get the lap together. But we’re trying to make that a bit better for tomorrow.” EFE

arh/dr

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