Lewis Hamilton and Silver Arrows set pace ahead of Italian Grand Prix at Monza

PUBLISHED: 17:25 01 September 2017 | UPDATED: 19:37 03 September 2017

Lewis Hamilton on track at Monza ahead of the 2017 Italian Grand Prix [Picture: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG]

Lewis Hamilton on track at Monza ahead of the 2017 Italian Grand Prix [Picture: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG]

Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG

Mercedes rivals Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas set the practice pace on the first day of the 2017 Italian Grand Prix weekend at Monza.

Hamilton, the 32-year-old Formula One driver from Hertfordshire, finished the morning session in P1 with Silver Arrows colleague Bottas in P2 at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

The three-time F1 world champion clocked the fastest lap of the session with a 1m 21.537s to Valtteri’s time of 1m 21.972s.

Those positions were reversed after lunch, with Bottas ending the day in P1 in the afternoon session with a time of 1m 21.406s, with Hamilton second quickest in P2. He clocked 1m 21.462s.

Hamilton said: “It’s been a good day, a clean day.

Lewis Hamilton on track at Monza ahead of the 2017 Italian Grand Prix [Picture: Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd]Lewis Hamilton on track at Monza ahead of the 2017 Italian Grand Prix [Picture: Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd]

“We got the running done, we got through our programme with no problems.

“The car seems nicely balanced here. We just have some work to do to eke out a little bit more performance.”

The Silver Arrows were the only cars to finish FP1 in under 1:22, with Lewis over a second faster than the Ferraris in P3 and P4.

In FP2, the four fastest cars finished within half a second of each other.

Looking ahead to qualifying, Hamilton added: “It looks quite close between us and the Ferraris, so I anticipate it’s going to be similar to the last race in that sense.”

Both Mercedes drivers ran the Medium (install), Soft and SuperSoft compound tyre in first practice.

In second practice, both Bottas and Hamilton then used the Soft and SuperSoft compound tyre.

Despite the rain that was forecast, it stayed dry for most of the practice sessions.

Bottas said: “First of all it was nice that it stayed dry today because all the forecasts said that the rain could affect the running and we could have limited running before qualifying and the race in the dry.

“But we got our full plan done.

“In FP1 we were actually ahead of the plan because we were still worried about the weather.

“I think it was a good day – at least I have a better feeling than I had after the Friday in Spa, everything started on the right foot.”

He added: “Initially in FP1 we went slightly in the wrong direction with the setup, but we managed to change it around for FP2 and the car felt a lot better.

“Overall, it was a positive day, the car is looking strong, but obviously it’s the next two days that count.”

Technical director James Allison said: “It was a slightly unusual Friday because the forecasts were quite pessimistic about the rain – overly pessimistic as it turned out.

“It meant that we put quite a bit of what we would normally do in the afternoon into the morning session.

“Considering the slightly unusual nature of the day, we’re quite pleased with the way it’s worked out.

“Both drivers looked fairly competitive on both the long runs and the short runs.

“It’s a very unusual circuit with unique downforce levels, but we looked to be in OK shape.

“There is a threat of rain for tomorrow, so all bets might be off for what we learned today, but it will be a dry race. So looking strong in the dry today is a good sign.”

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