Hamilton completes practice clean sweep at Monza

Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton completed a clean sweep of practice sessions on Saturday morning at Monza by topping the timesheets in FP3 ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

After finishing quickest in FP1 and FP2 on Friday, Hamilton managed to lead the way once again in the final free practice session ahead of qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms overnight left the track damp for the beginning of the session, forcing the drivers to head out on the intermediate tire early on.

Conditions did improve towards the end of FP3, allowing the drivers to head out on the dry compound tires and give some signs of their one lap pace ahead of qualifying later today.

Due to the drying track and increasing levels of grip, the fastest times came at the very end of the session, and it was Mercedes who led the way once again.

Hamilton posted a fastest lap time of 1:24.544 late on to beat Vettel by two-tenths of a second. Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg finished narrowly behind in third place.

Williams enjoyed a solid final practice session on Saturday morning as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Lotus also ran well thanks to the grunt of its Mercedes engines. Pastor Maldonado finished sixth overall thanks to a quick late lap, whilst teammate Romain Grosjean was P10. Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Marcus Ericsson split the Lotus drivers, filling out seventh to ninth.

It proved to be another difficult session for Red Bull as Daniel Ricciardo was forced to stop on track with a suspected gearbox problem. The Australian propped up the timesheets in 20th place whilst teammate Daniil Kvyat was also sidelined by a problem late on.

McLaren fared better than it had done on Friday, but still failed to bother the top ten. Fernando Alonso was P13 ahead of teammate Jenson Button, who was left lamenting an issue on his car that caused it to pull to the left under braking.

Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Saturday.

IMSA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration: Why Sebring is so special to Bobby Rahal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bobby Rahal has driven in some of the biggest races in the world, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 Hours and, of course, winning the Indianapolis 500 as a driver in 1986 and in 2004 as a team owner.

But winning the 12 Hours of Sebring two years in a row (1987 and 1988), Rahal feels, is right up there in terms of his greatest accomplishments as a race car driver.

As IMSA celebrates its 50th anniversary, Rahal reflected on what racing at Sebring International Raceway has meant to him:

“To me, Sebring is the ultimate endurance race. Not as long as Daytona or Le Mans, but the demands put on a car and driver at Sebring are highly unusual.

“My father raced at Sebring in the late 60’s. To win that race two years in a row really meant something to me.

“While we’ve won a lot of other races, we’ve won just about everywhere, you name it. But for me personally, winning at Sebring those two years in a row was very special.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski