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By Andrew Benson
Chief F1 writer at Monza
The Charles Leclerc of ferrari edged Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes to set fastest time in a practice at the Italian Grand Prix.
Leclerc, fresh out of his maiden win in Belgium, was 0.068 seconds quicker than Hamilton. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has been third, 0.201secs off the pace.
The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was from the Red Bulls of both Alexander Albon and Max Verstappen.
Rain made competitiveness to read than normal.
The weather meant that the teams conducted their sessions into various timetables, Ferrari and Red Bull cramming Mercedes preferring to wait until it had passed, prior to the rain shower early in the semester in their qualifying simulation laps.
That also meant an off-set in the later race-simulation prep, where Mercedes appeared to have an edge but on which Ferrari may have been influenced by a damper track for the start of their conducts.
Nevertheless, the cars’ performance pattern seemed as expected – with Ferrari having an advantage on a lap but Mercedes quicker over a longer run.
That’s precisely the pattern although Leclerc took pole by three-quarters of a second, but won the race in his tail with a charging.
One of the top six, a performance was from Albon.
In only his second race for Red Bull after his promotion in Toro Rosso, he had been a creditable 0.239secs slower than Verstappen, that will start this weekend out of the back of the grid as a result of a penalty for using too many motors.
That’s also true for Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, that was seventh quickest, and McLaren’s Lando Norris, who finished up 18th.
Behind Gasly, the Daniel Ricciardo and the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg of Renault completed the top 10.
There were a few spins and off-track moments, but no mishaps, unlike the very first semester, when the two Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez had heavy crashes.
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Analysis and comment from the chief Formula 1 writer of the BBC.
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