Lewis Hamilton fastest in Italian Grand Prix practice

Lewis Hamilton
Saturday's final practice and qualifying is live on the BBC Sport website and 5 live Sports Extra

Lewis Hamilton set the pace ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg with an impressive performance in second practice at the Italian Grand Prix.

The world champion was 0.193 seconds quicker than Rosberg around Monza as the two head into the final stages of their title battle.

Hamilton is nine points clear of Rosberg with eight races remaining.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was third but nearly half a second down on a track where margins are always tight.

Monza
During practice it was announced Monza had agreed a deal to continue staging the Italian Grand Prix for a further three years

The Italian team have introduced their last permitted engine development for their home race in an attempt to close the gap to Mercedes and shore up their attempt to recover second place in the constructors' championship from Red Bull.

Vettel's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest, 0.3secs down on the German and 0.3secs quicker than Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who was a similar margin ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

On race pace, Mercedes appear to be in a league of their own - well over half a second a lap clear of the rest on average, with Ferrari appearing to retain a slight edge over Red Bull.

monza
The circuit near Milan has been hosting the race nearly every year since 1950

Fernando Alonso was a surprising seventh fastest for McLaren on a track that he said on Thursday he expected would be the worst for the team all year.

The Spaniard, who achieved his time despite an oversteer moment on the exit of the fast Parabolica corner, was 0.3secs and three places ahead of team-mate Jenson Button, whose future remains a subject of speculation.

The 2009 world champion is out of contract with McLaren at the end of the season and the team are expected to promote their reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne, although they insist no final decision has been taken.

Williams' Valtteri Bottas and Haas' Romain Grosjean were the men between the McLaren drivers at the bottom end of the top 10.

"We have decent speed," said Vettel. "The car feels good but we need to make it feel good in every corner. The first impression is positive.

"We have had worse Fridays but Mercedes are looking very strong, similar to last year. They seem to be very competitive around here. We need to focus on ourselves and then I think we can be a lot closer."

Italian Grand Prix second practice results

Italian Grand Prix coverage details

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