Valtteri Bottas leads Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes set Monza pace — Italian GP

Track Torque: Hamilton unbeatable at Spa

Haas' Kevin Magnussen also had a session to forget, breaking the suspension on his car after running wide over the kerb at the exit of the second Lesmo.

The Italian Grand Prix takes place this weekend at Monza, Italy with the race proper at 1pm on Sunday.

Four drivers have started on pole this season - Hamilton (seven times), Vettel (twice), Bottas (twice) and Raikkonen.

The start of the race was devoid of incidents for the top dogs. But fail to seize the advantage and Vettel will have the upper hand knowing that Singapore, a track similar in nature to Monaco and Budapest, comes next.

Four-time world champion Vettel leads on 220 from three-time champion Hamilton on 213. "That's what I'm trying to figure out".

Hamilton, who pinpointed winning at Spa and Monza as key to his title credentials this year after the summer break, is duly aiming for back-to-back wins to deny Ferrari a potential first victory at the Italian circuit since 2010. It was one spring change, like one step. If you speak to him, he'll make it pretty clear. It's kind of easy to get caught up in what's happening. Herta has moved to Marco Andretti's pit stand this year as his race strategist.

"Of course it would be something very special to win here - also given the anniversary - but it would be a bad sign if we were only to try hard here and not anywhere else".

As would a victory on Sunday by Hamilton.

Vandoorne was on the move and moved into seventh place.

Hamilton said he had found it difficult to resist the German's attacks.

"I think it looked OK". Then there's Japan and that's Mercedes - it's got fast, sweeping corners rather like Silverstone.

Telling of his progress is that he finished all bar one of those six races off the podium, and similarly impressive is that his points accrued in that time included only one of his two victories.

"I just say thank you".

'Yes, you hear left and right that you have to win here and if you do so you are hero. "Growing up watching TV and watching Michael stand up there and now you're standing up there". While Mercedes was expected to have the upper hand at the power-hungry circuit, Vettel is confident Ferrari can still fight for its first win on home soil since 2010.

Hamilton has won two world championships with Mercedes since he joined them in 2013.

Spa showed us its greatness from all aspects as a hugely challenging track.

"It actually didn't hurt performance that much, but it didn't give us the extra 10th we needed".

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas set the pace in second practice on Friday, with Hamilton 0.056 seconds behind in second. Bottas stands third, 41 points behind Vettel.

Not that Hamilton has any qualms with Mercedes.

On the same day Ferrari used its drivers not to benefit the team but to benefit Vettel, who was allowed to remain in the lead in a damaged car ahead of a quicker Räikkönen.

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