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.
Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit
Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.
Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.
On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.
One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.
After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.
The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.
Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.
“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”
Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.
“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”
But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.
“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.
“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”
Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.
“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.
“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”
The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.