Vettel fastest in 2nd practice session at Italian GP
MONZA, Italy (AP) — Ferrari teammates Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were fastest in the second practice for the Italian Grand Prix on Friday.
Their speed in the afternoon will give Ferrari further encouragement it can end an eight-year wait for a win in its home race.
Both drivers appeared relaxed and smiling afterward.
"The car is working well, and we hope to confirm that in the next few days," Vettel said.
It was not all plain sailing for Vettel, who missed most of the first practice following a gearbox change. The German managed to complete only four laps.
Vettel also ended up spinning into the tire barrier at the Parabolica in the afternoon. The four-time world champion went back to the garage to have his car checked for damage and was able to resume the session.
"A bit of everything happened today," Vettel said. "We didn't run much this morning, the afternoon was better. The balance is still not perfect, but we can work for tomorrow. I don't know the weather tomorrow but the car works.
"This morning there was a little problem with the car. I wanted to run but I had to give up. Then I lost a bit of time because I spun, I exaggerated a bit."
Vettel was .270 seconds quicker than Raikkonen and .287 clear of Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel won the Belgian GP last weekend to trim Hamilton's overall lead to 17 points.
"We could see that, like in Spa, we had a small gap to Ferrari on both the short and the long runs," Hamilton said.
"My laps felt pretty good, but Ferrari was a little bit quicker. We're all working flat out right now in every part of the team, and we have work to do tonight as well — but there are some areas where we can see deficits, so I hope we can make a little step for qualifying.
"It has been a big battle for a number of races now, and they have had a small advantage since the middle of the summer, but we are pushing as hard as we can to overcome that."
Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson crashed spectacularly at the start of the second practice but was not seriously injured. The Swede lost control of his car at 350 kph (220 mph) and crashed into the barriers on the left of the track before rolling over four times. Ericsson was able to get out of the car unaided. He then walked down pit lane and smiled to the cheering fans.
Force India driver Sergio Perez set the fastest time in the first practice in a session affected by rain. Perez was .550 seconds quicker than Raikkonen, and .593 clear of teammate Esteban Ocon in an unlikely top three.
Hamilton was 11th, 2.546 slower than Perez after doing only six laps in his Mercedes to the Mexican's 18.
More rain is forecast for the third and final practice on Saturday morning but it is expected to be dry for qualifying and the race on Sunday.
Ferrari last won its home grand prix in 2010, with Fernando Alonso driving.
Vettel became F1's then-youngest race winner when he triumphed in Monza in 2008 with Toro Rosso. He also won the Italian GP in his 2011 and 2013 title years with Red Bull.
Hamilton has won four of the past six races in Monza and would tie Michael Schumacher's record of five Italian GP victories with another victory on Sunday.