Bottas tops FP2 as Ferrari closes in on Mercedes
Italian Grand Prix - Free Practice 2

Bottas tops FP2 as Ferrari closes in on Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas kept Mercedes top of the pile in second practice for the Italian Grand Prix, a session which saw Ferrari and championship leader Sebastian Vettel close to within 0.140s.

Mercedes had been a full second ahead of Ferrari in FP1 but that gap came down dramatically for the afternoon's qualifying simulations. Bottas' 1:21.406 was 0.056s quicker than teammate Lewis Hamilton, who had topped FP1, and only a tenth up on Vettel's best time.

The gap between the front runners is much closer to what people were expecting from this weekend after Ferrari ran Mercedes close at the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. That display prompted Vettel to declare Ferrari should fear none of the remaining races on the calendar, despite several which would (on paper) appear to suit Mercedes.

None of the top three appeared to hook up a perfect lap, with Hamilton looking especially ragged at the Roggia chicane. Ferrari's performance sets up the mouth-watering prospect of Ferrari being in the hunt for a first pole position at its home circuit since Fernando Alonso in 2010.

Behind the lead three was Kimi Raikkonen, who was 0.2s down on teammate Vettel. As with FP1, the Red Bulls occupied the next two spots, albeit this time with Max Verstappen ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. With big engine penalties incoming Red Bull will be focusing on finding a set-up which negates some of its power deficit in the grand prix, as both will be looking to fight their way back up the field.

Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso finished a surprise seventh and eighth for McLaren. The two drivers spent much of the session giving each other a tow in a bid to give a performance gain -- a tactic which nearly catapulted Alonso into Q3 at the Belgian GP. Though such a performance is likely to encourage McLaren fans, Sunday promises to be 53 laps of frustration for a team still suffering a significant deficit to its main rivals.

Esteban Ocon and Felipe Massa took their respective Mercedes-powered cars to ninth and tenth. Both Force Indias and Williams will sense a strong result is on the cards for Sunday, especially with Red Bull effectively taken out of the hunt with grid penalties.

Carlos Sainz finished 11th but his session did not last long, with the Spaniard pulling his Toro Rosso over to one side of the circuit in the final 30 minutes. Renault showed some encouragement from FP1, with Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer climbing up to 12th and 13th respectively. Sergio Perez was 14th in the other Force India, just ahead of Williams' Lance Stroll.

Haas pair Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen finished 17th and 18th as the American team slipped down the pecking order. Magnussen's session ended abruptly when he hit a kerb at the second Lesmo chicane, with the impact breaking his front suspension and forcing him to crawl back to the pits. Haas was confident coming into the Italian Grand Prix weekend and will hope the incident is not too much of a setback for Magnussen's weekend.

Finishing at the bottom of the order was the Saubers, with Marcus Ericsson 3.4s behind. Teammate Pascal Wehrlein was another 0.4s down on that time as the Swiss team continues to tread water before returning to an up-to-date engine deal with Ferrari for 2018.

Related news

Bottas beats Hamilton to victory in Abu Dhabi

Bottas beats Hamilton to victory in Abu Dhabi

Valtteri Bottas withstood race-long pressure from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to end the season with a victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas pips Lewis Hamilton to Abu Dhabi pole

Valtteri Bottas pips Lewis Hamilton to Abu Dhabi pole

Valtteri Bottas secured pole position ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton at the final race of the season as the Mercedes drivers locked out the front row of the grid in Abu Dhabi.

Lewis Hamilton stays on top to lead Mercedes one-two in Abu Dhabi final practice

Lewis Hamilton stays on top to lead Mercedes one-two in Abu Dhabi final practice

Lewis Hamilton topped the final practice session ahead of qualifying for Formula One's season finale in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton puts Mercedes on top in FP2

Lewis Hamilton puts Mercedes on top in FP2

Lewis Hamilton swapped places with Sebastian Vettel at the top of the order as Mercedes and Ferrari remained close during Friday evening practice at Yas Marina.

Sebastian Vettel leads Hamilton in first Abu Dhabi practice

Sebastian Vettel leads Hamilton in first Abu Dhabi practice

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel set the pace in opening practice for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday with Lewis Hamilton second fastest for Formula One champions Mercedes.

Neuville wins as Latvala throws away second

Neuville wins as Latvala throws away second

Thierry Neuville won the final round of the 2017 World Rally Championship as his closest challenger, Jari-Matti Latvala, crashed out of second place on Rally Australia's Power Stage.

Sebastian Vettel beats Valtteri Bottas to win in Brazil

Sebastian Vettel beats Valtteri Bottas to win in Brazil

Sebastian Vettel claimed his fifth win of the season after beating Valtteri Bottas to victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Marquez takes fourth MotoGP title in five years

Marquez takes fourth MotoGP title in five years

Honda's Marc Marquez won his fourth MotoGP world championship in five years on Sunday after his only rival Andrea Dovizioso crashed out of the season-ending race in Valencia.

Bottas takes pole after Hamilton crashes out

Bottas takes pole after Hamilton crashes out

Valtteri Bottas beat Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to pole position with a last-gasp effort in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, after newly-crowned Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton crashed out in the first session.

RELATED NEWS

Bottas beats Hamilton to victory in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Bottas beats Hamilton to victory in Abu Dhabi

Valtteri Bottas withstood race-long pressure from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to end the season with a victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas pips Lewis Hamilton to Abu Dhabi pole
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Qualifying

Valtteri Bottas pips Lewis Hamilton to Abu Dhabi pole

Valtteri Bottas secured pole position ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton at the final race of the season as the Mercedes drivers locked out the front row of the grid in Abu Dhabi.

Lewis Hamilton stays on top to lead Mercedes one-two in Abu Dhabi final practice
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - FP3

Lewis Hamilton stays on top to lead Mercedes one-two in Abu Dhabi final practice

Lewis Hamilton topped the final practice session ahead of qualifying for Formula One's season finale in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton puts Mercedes on top in FP2
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - FP2

Lewis Hamilton puts Mercedes on top in FP2

Lewis Hamilton swapped places with Sebastian Vettel at the top of the order as Mercedes and Ferrari remained close during Friday evening practice at Yas Marina.

Sebastian Vettel leads Hamilton in first Abu Dhabi practice
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - FP1

Sebastian Vettel leads Hamilton in first Abu Dhabi practice

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel set the pace in opening practice for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday with Lewis Hamilton second fastest for Formula One champions Mercedes.

Neuville wins as Latvala throws away second
WRC Rally Australia

Neuville wins as Latvala throws away second

Thierry Neuville won the final round of the 2017 World Rally Championship as his closest challenger, Jari-Matti Latvala, crashed out of second place on Rally Australia's Power Stage.

Sebastian Vettel beats Valtteri Bottas to win in Brazil
Brazil Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel beats Valtteri Bottas to win in Brazil

Sebastian Vettel claimed his fifth win of the season after beating Valtteri Bottas to victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Marquez takes fourth MotoGP title in five years
Valencia Grand Prix

Marquez takes fourth MotoGP title in five years

Honda's Marc Marquez won his fourth MotoGP world championship in five years on Sunday after his only rival Andrea Dovizioso crashed out of the season-ending race in Valencia.

Bottas takes pole after Hamilton crashes out
Brazil Grand Prix - Qualifying

Bottas takes pole after Hamilton crashes out

Valtteri Bottas beat Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to pole position with a last-gasp effort in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, after newly-crowned Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton crashed out in the first session.