Mercedes dominated practice at the Italian Grand Prix as Ferrari try everything they can to try and be more competitive in their home Grand Prix.
Nico Rosberg, who might have expected to be a bit closer to Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ table, finished fastest in the first practice session. He was 0.203 seconds faster than his team mate, who’s still nine points clear of the German, with Kimi Raikkonen third but a second behind and Sebastian Vettel in fourth.
While Mercedes were racing on the super-soft tyre, Ferrari were only on the soft. It’s a big weekend for the Italian team who are 203 points behind Mercedes in the constructors’ championship but only 23 adrift of Red Bull in second. They’ve used their final engine development ‘tokens’ in an attempt to be a lot more competitive than in recent races. Four races have passed since they finished in the top three.
It wasn’t a good first practice for Red Bull with Max Verstappen in eighth but at least he didn’t get involved in any collisions. Both McLaren drivers finished outside the top ten with Jenson Button 11th and Fernando Alonso 13th after having to pit due to a gearshift problem.
Mercedes again finished one-two in second practice but this time it was Lewis Hamilton who finished fastest, 0.193 seconds clear of the German. Sebastian Vettel finished in third but nearly half a second down. His team mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth with Verstappen in fifth. Can Ferrari stay ahead of Red Bull on Sunday? Catching the Mercedes doesn’t look too likely barring mishaps.
Sebastian Vettel is hopeful that the gap can be narrowed over the weekend. “We have decent speed,” said the former World Champion. “The car feels good but we need to make it feel good in every corner. The first impression is positive.” He believes the two Ferrari’s need to “focus on ourselves and then I think we can be a lot closer.” Only time of course will tell.
McLaren had a better second practice with Fernando Alonso finishing seventh. Not bad considering his comments this week about this track being the worst for McLaren all year and the fact he had an oversteer moment on the exit of the fast Parabolica corner. Jenson Button, who may or may not be driving for McLaren next year (the usual debate this time of the year) was back in 10th.
This definitely looks one of those weekends when Mercedes are going to dominate proceedings this weekend. They are well over half a second a lap clear on the other teams but will it be Hamilton or Rosberg who finish first