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

Hyundai fill top three slots after day one in Sweden

Hyundai fill top three slots after day one in Sweden

Thierry Neuville led a Hyundai one-two-three after the first full day of action over the snowy stages of Rally Sweden on Friday.

Tanak leads early Toyota one-two in Sweden

Tanak leads early Toyota one-two in Sweden

Toyota World Rally Championship driver Ott Tanak leads Rally Sweden ahead of the first full day of competition after winning the Karlstad superspecial stage on Thursday evening.

Ogier wins incident-packed season opener

Ogier wins incident-packed season opener

Sebastien Ogier kicked off the 2018 World Rally Championship season with a commanding victory on the Monte Carlo Rally.

Sebastien Ogier extends Monte Carlo lead after third leg

Sebastien Ogier extends Monte Carlo lead after third leg

Five-time rally world champion Sebastien Ogier of France looked set to win the 2018 season opener after extending his lead on the third day of the Rallye Monte Carlo on Saturday.

Tanak closes back in on conservative Ogier

Tanak closes back in on conservative Ogier

Ott Tanak hacked a third out of Sebastien Ogier's Saturday morning Monte Carlo Rally advantage to get the gap at the top down to 39.5 seconds.

Ogier mistake allows Tanak to close in

Ogier mistake allows Tanak to close in

Sebastien Ogier's Monte Carlo Rally lead is down to 14.9 seconds after a mistake on Friday afternoon allowed Ott Tanak to close in.

Ogier adds to lead, Tanak moves into second

Ogier adds to lead, Tanak moves into second

Sebastien Ogier stretched his Monte Carlo Rally lead as second place changed hands repeatedly on the first daylight stages of the 2018 World Rally Championship opener.

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.

RELATED NEWS

Hyundai fill top three slots after day one in Sweden
Rally Sweden

Hyundai fill top three slots after day one in Sweden

Thierry Neuville led a Hyundai one-two-three after the first full day of action over the snowy stages of Rally Sweden on Friday.

Tanak leads early Toyota one-two in Sweden
Rally Sweden

Tanak leads early Toyota one-two in Sweden

Toyota World Rally Championship driver Ott Tanak leads Rally Sweden ahead of the first full day of competition after winning the Karlstad superspecial stage on Thursday evening.

Ogier wins incident-packed season opener
Monte Carlo Rally

Ogier wins incident-packed season opener

Sebastien Ogier kicked off the 2018 World Rally Championship season with a commanding victory on the Monte Carlo Rally.

Sebastien Ogier extends Monte Carlo lead after third leg
Monte Carlo Rally

Sebastien Ogier extends Monte Carlo lead after third leg

Five-time rally world champion Sebastien Ogier of France looked set to win the 2018 season opener after extending his lead on the third day of the Rallye Monte Carlo on Saturday.

Tanak closes back in on conservative Ogier
Monte Carlo Rally

Tanak closes back in on conservative Ogier

Ott Tanak hacked a third out of Sebastien Ogier's Saturday morning Monte Carlo Rally advantage to get the gap at the top down to 39.5 seconds.

Ogier mistake allows Tanak to close in
Monte Carlo Rally

Ogier mistake allows Tanak to close in

Sebastien Ogier's Monte Carlo Rally lead is down to 14.9 seconds after a mistake on Friday afternoon allowed Ott Tanak to close in.

Ogier adds to lead, Tanak moves into second
Monte Carlo Rally

Ogier adds to lead, Tanak moves into second

Sebastien Ogier stretched his Monte Carlo Rally lead as second place changed hands repeatedly on the first daylight stages of the 2018 World Rally Championship opener.

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.

DERBY OF THE WEEK
Chelsea - Barcelona
Derby of the week
20:45
20/02/2018
Derby of the week
W 3.75    
   W 2.00
The odds are correct at the time of publishing
02-15-2018 09:00 and are subject to change
Football Live Scores
Tennis Live Scores