The Mercedes team once again topped the standings after Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time by beating teammate Valtteri Bottas in Friday’s second practice session for the Formula One Italian Grand Prix.
The championship leader finished the session with a .262-second lead over Bottas, who had been the best in the morning session. McLaren’s Lando Norris was third, .897 seconds behind Hamilton.
Ferrari improved slightly in the second session at the home circuit. Sebastian Vettel advanced from 19th place in the first practice to 12th, and Charles Leclerc went from 11th to ninth, but neither of them came close to Hamilton by less than a second.
The two Ferrari drivers skidded off the track and Leclerc was heard saying over the team radio that “the car is very difficult to drive.”
Hamilton has won five of the seven GPs and holds a 47-point lead over his closest rival, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, and a 50-point lead over Bottas.
Verstappen was fifth in the afternoon session, 1.036 seconds slower than Hamilton. He got into the same position in the first session after making turns at the Ascari chicane, leaving him out for 25 minutes while his car was repaired.
Previously, Bottas had set the best time in the first session, beating Hamilton.
The Finn’s best lap was .245 seconds better than Hamilton’s and .797 seconds faster than that recorded by Red Bull driver Alexander Albon.
It is the fourth time in a row that Bottas has been fastest in the first practice session, but he has only won one race.
There will be very few witnesses to the race at the Monza circuit on Sunday after 250 health workers have been invited to attend the Grand Prix as fans in recognition of their work during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, the president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), Jean Todt, and the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Francesco Rocca, visited nearby Bergamo to pay tribute to the work carried out around the world in the fight against COVID-19. Bergamo is one of the Italian cities most affected by the pandemic. AP (HN).