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.

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18/10/2017
11:00 | ATP 250 - Kremlin Cup
11:00 | ATP 250 - European Open - Antwerp
11:00 | ATP 250 - Stockholm Open
11:00 | WTA - Moscow - Kremlin Cup
20:45 | Qarabag - Atletico Madrid
20:45 | CSKA Moskva - Basel
20:45 | Benfica - Manchester United
20:45 | Anderlecht - PSG
20:45 | Bayern Munich - Celtic
20:45 | Chelsea - Roma
20:45 | Juventus - Sporting
20:45 | Barcelona - Olympiakos
19/10/2017
11:00 | ATP 250 - Kremlin Cup
11:00 | ATP 250 - European Open - Antwerp
11:00 | ATP 250 - Stockholm Open
11:00 | WTA - Moscow - Kremlin Cup
19:00 | Ostersunds - Athletic Club
19:00 | Zorya - Hertha BSC
19:00 | BATE - Cologne
19:00 | Crvena Zvezda - Arsenal
19:00 | Olympique Marseille - Vitoria Guimaraes
19:00 | Nice - Lazio
19:00 | Zenit - Rosenborg
19:00 | Vardar - Real Sociedad
21:05 | Villarreal - Slavia Praha
21:05 | Milan - AEK Athens
21:05 | Everton - Olympique Lyon
21:05 | Atalanta - Apollon
20/10/2017
11:00 | ATP 250 - Kremlin Cup
11:00 | ATP 250 - European Open - Antwerp
11:00 | ATP 250 - Stockholm Open
11:00 | WTA - Moscow - Kremlin Cup
17:00 | Formula 1 - United States Grand Prix - Free Practice 1
20:30 | FC Schalke 04 - Mainz 05
21:00 | Formula 1 - United States Grand Prix - Free Practice 2
21/10/2017
06:10 | MotoGP - Australian Grand Prix - Qualifying
11:00 | ATP 250 - Kremlin Cup
11:00 | ATP 250 - European Open - Antwerp
11:00 | ATP 250 - Stockholm Open
11:00 | WTA - Moscow - Kremlin Cup
13:30 | Chelsea - Watford
15:30 | Borussia M'gladbach - Bayer Leverkusen
15:30 | Eintracht - Borussia Dortmund
16:00 | Manchester City - Burnley
16:00 | Swansea City - Leicester City
16:00 | Huddersfield Town - Manchester United
17:00 | Monaco - Caen
17:00 | Formula 1 - United States Grand Prix - Free Practice 3
18:30 | Valencia - Sevilla
18:30 | Hamburger SV - Bayern Munich
20:00 | Formula 1 - United States Grand Prix - Qualifying
20:45 | Barcelona - Malaga
20:45 | Napoli - Inter Milan
DERBY OF THE WEEK
Chelsea - Roma
Derby of the week
20:45
18/10/2017
Derby of the week
W 1.61    
   W 5.75
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