Italian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton on top in practice as Monza signs up for three more years

Hamilton topped second practice while Bernie Ecclestone confirmed a deal had been agreed to keep Formula 1 at Monza until 2019

Philip Duncan
Monza, Italy
Friday 02 September 2016 16:16
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World champion Lewis Hamilton ended the final practice session on Friday at the top of the pile as he bids to win his 50th grand prix and complete a historic hat-trick in Monza.

Hamilton, a winner at the so-called Temple of Speed in each of the previous two seasons, is hoping to become the first driver since Juan Manuel Fangio, the five-time champion, to triumph at Monza for three consecutive years.

The British driver, who leads his sole title rival Nico Rosberg by nine points, is also only one victory shy of a career 50.

And Hamilton posted the fastest practice lap of the day on Friday with a best time of one minute and 22.801 seconds to finish nearly two tenths clear of Mercedes team-mate Rosberg.

Ferrari, appearing in front of their partisan home crowd, will buoyed by their display in practice, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen third and fourth respectively. The former was within half-a-second of Hamilton's quickest lap.

The second practice session at a sun-drenched Monza was briefly interrupted by a short press conference in which Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One's chief executive, announced that he is poised to pen a new three-year deal with the historic Italian circuit.

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The pending contract means Monza, which has been a permanent fixture on the calender since 1950, will continue to host the Italian Grand Prix until 2019.

"While we have reached an agreement (they) are getting all the small details that are important in a contract together and we will sign this back in England," Ecclestone, 85, said.

Back on track and Max Verstappen, who has courted some rather negative attention here following his aggressive defensive tactics in Belgium last Sunday, was fifth in the order, one place ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso was seventh, while his team-mate Jenson Button, whose future remains shrouded in uncertainty, finished 10th, 1.7 seconds slower than Hamilton.

Williams driver Felipe Massa, who on Thursday announced he will be retiring from the sport at the end of the season, was 11th, despite battling a number of car issues on Friday.

British rookie Jolyon Palmer, fighting to convince his Renault bosses that he warrants another year in Formula One, was a distant last. The 25-year-old from Horsham was three tenths slower than his team-mate Kevin Magnussen, who has been given the all-clear to race this weekend following his enormous shunt in Belgium.

Final Times after Second Practice:

1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1min 22.801secs

2 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1min 22.994secs

3 Sebastian Vettel(Ger) Ferrari 1:23.254

4 Kimi Raikkonen(Fin) Ferrari 1:23.427

5 Max Verstappen(Ned) Red Bull 1:23.732

6 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1:24.003

7 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 1:24.259

8 Valtteri Bottas(Fin) Williams 1:24.299

9 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 1:24.516

10 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:24.549

11 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams 1:24.556

12 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 1:24.587

13 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 1:24.653

14 Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Haas F1 1:24.674

15 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.981

16 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Manor Racing 1:25.083

17 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:25.240

18 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Manor Racing 1:25.275

19 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Renault 1:25.555

20 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:25.614

21 Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber-Ferrari 1:25.643

22 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault 1:25.833

PA

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