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By Andrew Benson
Chief F1 writer at Monza
Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes to set time at a clinic in the Grand Prix was edged by the Charles Leclerc of ferrari.
Leclerc, fresh out of his maiden win in Belgium, was 0.068 minutes faster than Hamilton. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was 0.201secs off the pace.
The Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was third, from the Red Bulls of Alexander Albon and Max Verstappen.
Rain created competitiveness harder to read than usual.
The weather meant the teams conducted their sessions to timetables, Ferrari and Red Bull cramming in their simulation laps Mercedes preferring to wait patiently till it had passed, before the rain shower.
That also meant an off-set in the subsequent race-simulation prep, on that Ferrari may have been affected by a damper track for the beginning of their runs although where Mercedes seemed to have an advantage.
Nevertheless, the performance pattern of the cars appeared as anticipated with Ferrari having an edge on a single lap but Mercedes faster over a longer term.
That’s precisely the pattern seen in Belgium, where Leclerc took rod but won the race in his tail having a charging Hamilton right.
One of the top six, a performance was from Albon.
In just his second race for Red Bull after his promotion against Toro Rosso, he was a creditable 0.239secs slower than Verstappen, who will start this weekend from the rear of the grid as a result of a punishment for using a lot of engines.
That is also the case for Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, who was seventh quickest, while an oil flow was fixed by McLaren after missing the first half of the session along with McLaren’s Lando Norris, that ended up 18th.
Underneath Gasly, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, the Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso and the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg finished the top 10.
There were a few spins and minutes, but no accidents, unlike the very first semester, when both Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Racing Point Sergio Perez had crashes.
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Analysis and comment in the chief Formula 1 author of the BBC.
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