Rosberg tops FP2 at Monza as Hamilton hits trouble

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Nico Rosberg has responded to Lewis Hamilton’s impressive time during the first practice session ahead of the Italian Grand Prix by finishing fastest in FP2 on Friday afternoon at Monza.

The German driver posted a fastest lap of 1:26.225 to finish just 0.061s ahead of his Mercedes teammate and championship rival, but Hamilton did well to get that close considering he was forced to miss most of the session after an electrical problem.

[ WATCH: Full replay of FP2 ]

The team was unable to fire Hamilton’s car up when the session went green, and only managed to resolve the issue with 30 minutes remaining. When he did venture out, Hamilton quickly got close to Rosberg’s time, only to be blocked by traffic on both of his hot laps.

This issue did rob the team of some precious laps though, with the Briton completing just a third of what his teammate could manage in the 90-minute session.

Just behind the Silver Arrows, Ferrari impressed once again to finish third and fourth on Friday afternoon. Kimi Raikkonen finished one-tenth of a second behind Rosberg at the top, and was two-tenths clear of Fernando Alonso in fourth place.

Williams began to show its true colors in FP2 after a quiet first session as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished fifth and ninth respectively. Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen also impressed for McLaren to come home sixth and eighth, with Sebastian Vettel splitting the pair. His Red Bull teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, rounded out the top ten.

Once again, Mercedes is forging ahead at the front of the field, but a very close battle is developing just behind Hamilton and Rosberg.

Join us tomorrow for FP3 on Live Extra at 5am ET, followed by qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix on NBCSN at 8am ET.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”