Italian Grand Prix Preview: Vettel continues pursuit of Hamilton in Monza

Italian Grand Prix Preview: Vettel continues pursuit of Hamilton in Monza

Italian Grand Prix Preview: Vettel continues pursuit of Hamilton in Monza

Lewis Hamilton gave it everything in his Mercedes - and was on provisional pole for a matter of moments - before Sebastian Vettel first and then Raikkonen bettered his time.

A Vettel victory would further deflate Hamilton's bid for a fifth title as the defending champion conceded in Belgium where he said.

"It is the best place to be, and it went right in the end", Raikkonen said.

"The auto has been working well".

His big rival Hamilton, [3.45] to win Sunday's race, will have relished all those problems, even if his own first practice run ended with him as an unspectacular 11th on the timesheets. I lost a bit in the first chicane, the second chicane, the Lesmos, pretty much a bit everywhere...

"But we did plenty of laps this afternoon in the dry and we could see that, like in Spa, we had a small gap to Ferrari on both the short and the long runs".

"It was just not a good lap and not good enough".

Motor racing has always been an obsession for Italian fans, and with Ferrari now regarded as clearly the fastest vehicle in the paddock, the famous racing horse could be in for a special weekend. "I feel fine and hopefully we can be back tomorrow and fighting".

"The FIA is certainly happy declaring our vehicle legal at these races and from our side we're happy that the point is completely closed by them".

Marcus Ericsson walked away from one of the biggest Formula One crashes in recent years after losing control of his auto at 220mph in practice for the Italian Grand Prix. The Swede lost control of his auto at 350 kph (220 mph) and crashed into the barriers on the left of the track before rolling over four times. Esteban Ocon also got ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the final practice session, with the Australian focusing on race pace due to a power unit penalty that will leave him starting from the back of the grid.

As the cars began to filter out of the pit lane, a black cloud threatened overhead. The German was 17th, 3.867 slower than Perez after completing only four laps.

More rain fell on Saturday morning but the track had dried out by the time the drivers took to it in their cars. Everything is lined up in favour of Vettel who did win at Monza in 2013 while he was still winning championships for Red Bull.

Ferrari have won 234 races since 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114, Mercedes 81 and Red Bull 58.

Vettel won his first ever F1 race at the Autodromo di Monza a decade ago, an unbelievable feat in his Toro Rosso.

Ferrari last won its home grand prix in 2010, with Fernando Alonso driving.

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