Aiming for pole record, Hamilton tops opening Monza practice

Getty Images

Getty Images

On balance, Mercedes appears to have the advantage over the remaining nine races.

In the end, Hamilton steered his Mercedes across the finish line 2.358 seconds ahead of the Ferrari, and cut Vettel's 14-point lead atop the drivers' standings by half. The 30 year-old German has three wins under his belt at Monza in 2008 for Toro Rosso and in 2011 and 2013 respectively, for their sister team Red Bull.

Unfortunately the auto dropped even further off the pace the following year and they finished fourth in the constructors' championship. Sunday's race at F1's fastest track starts at 1pm.

"There's no rush. I still have another year". I thought we had the tools to do it but we didn't.

"He had some very good moments, like in Sochi, and he had more hard races like in Spa", Wolff added.

"That's fair enough. I think it would have been the same the other way around".

"I changed my perspective".

"We know that they are very strong around here in the past couple of years as it is a track which is power circuit where we know they have had their strengths in the past couple of years", Vettel explained.

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Valtteri Bottas has been assured he will keep his seat at Mercedes for at least another year. He has learned to embrace every moment, despite not being where he wants to be. "Having said so, our attitude will be humble, but not surrendering". "It was not the easiest vehicle to drive today", the Finn said.

For Vettel, however, it is a key opportunity to retain the momentum in front of the tifosi on a weekend when Ferrari will celebrate the team's 70th anniversary. "If I was, I would call Toto and tell him I will do my due diligence and see what options there are for me, but I have no plans to do that".

"We got the running done - we got through the programme without any problems. I will capitalise on every part of that handsome thing".

Verstappen will have a drop of 15 positions while Ricciardo, who finished third in Belgium last weekend, has a 20 place penalty.

Hamilton led the way in FP1 ahead of Bottas, with the Ferraris unable to get within a second of the three-time world champion first time around. Both men face grid penalties, however, for Sunday's race.

Even though, this gave Vettel a slight chance, Hamilton powered his way through the race, untroubled to win in his 200 Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who can eclipse Michael Schumacher's pole-position record today, says he feels at home driving in his "enemy's back garden" in Italy.

Ferrari star Kimi Raikkonen had a first practice to forget for the most part, but after shaking off the morning cobwebs, he rampaged into P1 with a more impressive lap-a trend that continued as second practice wore on. Vettel is the points leader right now with 220 points. "I am looking forward to it".

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