Hamilton, who trails Sebastian Vettel by seven points in the title race ahead of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, has one more term to run on his current deal.
Lewis Hamilton topped the times ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in Friday’s opening free practice for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix on May 14, 2017 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona.
Hamilton hit the ground running after F1’s summer break putting on a driving masterclass at Spa.
Hamilton will surpass Michael Schumacher’s all-time record with pole position on Saturday, but the Brit will not only have Bottas to contend with for top spot on the grid.
A repeat performance at Monza would hand Hamilton the initiative and inflict a psychological blow to Ferrari in front of their adoring Tifosi.
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The Ferrari fans will take heart that Mercedes also looked strong in Belgian Grand Prix practice at Spa last weekend.
While the initial signs are ominous for Ferrari, its pace can be explained by the team using older power units than Mercedes after the constructors’ champions introduced an updated specification in Belgium. Bottas has one win this year with three runner-up finishes.
If most of the crowd will be cheering for Vettel and Raikkonen, Hamilton was unconcerned. “Going there on a warm September afternoon – there’s nothing like it”.
However, Vettel would prefer to see his name atop the standings after Monza and beyond.
Vettel claimed his maiden F1 win for Toro Rosso at Monza in tempestuous rain in 2008 and won again with Red Bull in 2011 and 2013.
Ferrari’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel was always right on Hamilton’s tail, unable to pass but waiting for a mistake that might give him a chance, and Monza will be another flat out blast. The 5.7-kilometer long Monza circuit, with its flat-out blasts joined together by chicanes, has been Mercedes’ stomping ground in recent years.
Having been fastest in the first session and only a hair behind Bottas in the second, title challenger Hamilton said it had been a good day in the Silver Arrows camp.
“I think the form we showed in Spa was real, and the speed was there in particular in the race, which weeks ago on a similar type of track, maybe wasn’t the case”.
“Initially in FP1 we went slightly in the wrong direction with the setup, but we managed to change it around for FP2 and the vehicle felt a lot better”.
“Following that there are going to be some real hard races coming up and I don’t know whether we are going to be able to keep the Ferrari behind”.