Lewis Hamilton narrowly beat teammate Nico Rosberg to top spot on the Friday practice timesheets at Monza as Mercedes once again dominated proceedings in preparation for the Italian Grand Prix.

While the margin between the Mercedes teammates was nearly half-a-second in the opening session, Rosberg managed to trim the gap to just two-hundredths of a second in FP2. The Silver Arrows’ dominance over the rest of the field was utterly demoralising, with third-fastest Sebastian Vettel over three-quarters of a second down in his Ferrari.

Over the longer runs, Ferrari lapped around half a second off the pace, although the team will take some comfort in a trouble-free session for both Vettel and teammate Kimi Räikkönen, who finished sixth-fastest and reported no issues at the team’s home event.

Interestingly, the Ferraris were once again split on the timesheets by the two Force Indias. The B-spec VJM08s – running with a number of aerodynamic updates this weekend – ran quickly in the first practice session and continued that pace into FP2, with both cars looking quick through the Monza circuit’s speed trap. Sergio Pérez and Nico Hülkenberg are both tipped to be dark horses this weekend, and it would be hard to disagree on the basis of their showing today.

Aside from the two Ferraris, it was an all-Mercedes powered affair in the top half of the timesheets on a circuit where horsepower and straight line speed is everything. The Lotus’ of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were seventh- and eighth-fastest ahead of the two Williams’.

The latter – as has typically been the case over a number of Friday sessions – focused on long stint runs and proved to be faster than the Force India in race trim. However, the Force India cars were much faster in a straight line and this will be something to watch out for on Saturday and Sunday.

The two Saubers showed improved pace compared to recent form and finished the session eleventh and twelfth-fastest, with Felipe Nasr outpacing Marcus Ericsson by just 0.019 secondsas both concentrated on longer runs in the session. All eyes in the garage were on Nasr, who in the last two races has had problems with his Brembo brakes and thus this is an area that Sauber want to assure is fixed.

Daniel Ricciardo was the quickest of the Renault-powered runners in a lowly thirteenth, but it was a tough session for the Australian. He suffered an early problem in the session after being stuck in first gear and had to limp back to the pits. The issue was diagnosed as a software glitch that was messing with the hydraulics and he was able to return to the track to notch up 27 laps over the session.

His teammate Daniil Kvyat finished at the bottom of the timesheets, but that was on account of the Russian focusing exclusively on long-run stints on both tyre sets. Both RB11s will start near the back of the grid due to engine change penalties, so dialing the car in for a strong qualifying performance was rather irrelevant.

Sister outfit Toro Rosso continued their mixed Friday session. After suffering a gearbox problem in FP1, Carlos Sainz set about making up for lost mileage by putting in almost a complete race distance in the second session – 50 laps – before pitting with around half an hour of the session to run. The Spaniard drew some attention with a smoky lock-up on the way to the pit lane; he too will have a grid penalty for an engine change.

Teammate Max Verstappen was the quicker of the pair and finished fourteenth-fastest, although the teenage racer had a major moment when lost the car and went into the gravel, just missing the barriers behind him. Somehow he was able to drive out of the kitty litter and carry on with the rest of his session.

It was a poor session for McLaren, with Jenson Button only managing one timed lap before pitting with an unspecified leak in his Honda-powered MP4-30. He and teammate Fernando Alonso are expected to start on the back row of the grid, with the team indicating it will repeat its Belgian Grand Prix tactic of performing two engine changes per car in a bid to give it enough power units to see out the season.

Saturday’s final practice session at Monza begins at 11:00 local time (GMT +2).

Formula 1 Gran Premio D’Italia 2015 – Free Practice 2 Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:24.279 27
2. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:24.300 + 0.021 35
3. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:25.038 + 0.759 36
4. Sergio Pérez mx Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B 1:25.278 + 0.999 34
5. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B 1:25.325 + 1.046 43
6. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:25.380 + 1.101 39
7. Romain Grosjean fr Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:25.497 + 1.218 41
8. Pastor Maldonado ve Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:25.513 + 1.234 41
9. Valtteri Bottas fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:25.647 + 1.368 34
10. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:25.891 + 1.612 31
11. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:26.114 + 1.835 30
12. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:26.133 + 1.854 32
13. Daniel Ricciardo au Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:26.222 + 1.943 27
14. Max Verstappen nl Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:26.454 + 2.175 38
15. Carlos Sainz es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:26.641 + 2.362 50
16. Fernando Alonso es McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:26.966 + 2.687 31
17. Will Stevens uk Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B 1:28.201 + 3.922 29
18. Roberto Merhi es Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B 1:28.439 + 4.160 27
19. Jenson Button uk McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:28.471 + 4.192 3
20. Daniil Kvyat ru Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:28.723 + 4.444 28

Image via Sutton Motorsport Images

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Chandni Patel

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