Hamilton can match Fangio and win 3rd straight Italian GP

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MONZA, Italy (AP) Lewis Hamilton reversed positions with Nico Rosberg and led the second practice for the Italian Grand Prix on Friday.

Second to his Mercedes teammate in the morning session, Hamilton surged ahead in the afternoon amid hot and sticky conditions with a track temperature of 42 degrees (108 F).

Hamilton edged Rosberg by 0.193 seconds.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen placed third and fourth, respectively, and also flip-flopped spots from the morning.

With Max Verstappen placing fifth in the more important afternoon session, the Red Bull driver was shaping up another clash with the two Ferrari cars after their tangle in Belgium last weekend.

Daniel Ricciardo was next in the other Red Bull, and Fernando Alonso overcame technical problems in gis McLaren Honda to place seventh.

Featuring long straights and sweeping curves, Monza features the fastest speeds in Formula One. On the main straight, speeds topped out at 355 kph (220 mph).

Hamilton is aiming for his fourth victory overall in Monza, which would draw him level with Nelson Piquet for second on the all-time list behind Michael Schumacher’s record five wins.

Hamilton also a chance to equal Juan Manuel Fangio three consecutive wins at Monza in 1953, `54 and `55.

Last year, Hamilton led each practice, took pole position, and led the race from start to finish.

Rosberg won the Belgian GP last weekend to cut Hamilton’s championship lead to nine points. He’s still seeking his first victory at the track outside Milan, which has hosted more F1 racing than any other circuit.

Hamilton is aiming for his 50th career win on Sunday.

In the morning, Verstappen, Jenson Button, and Sergio Perez tested out a protective halo device designed to reduce the risk of head injuries, following the deaths of F1 driver Jules Bianchi and British IndyCar driver Justin Wilson last year. The halos could be introduced for races in 2018.