Formula One leader Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest time in the second practice for the Italian Grand Prix, more than six-tenths of a second faster than teammate Mark Webber for a Red Bull 1-2 on Friday.
Vettel, who won at Monza in 2011, was 0.623 seconds faster than Webber and looked in complete control from the start of the afternoon session. It is an ominous sign for his rivals ahead of Sunday’s race.
“It was a good day, that’s for sure, but we’ve got our feet on the ground,” Vettel said. “It’s still only a Friday. I don’t know, maybe the others had some problems. But regarding ourselves, it was a good day, I didn’t have any issues with the car, it felt pretty comfortable.
“I’m sure it will be very tight, as we saw in first practice. Second practice, if you look at it too much, is a bit of a distraction. I think it will be close tomorrow in qualifying, with many cars in a couple of hundredths. Sure today was positive, but it’s a long weekend. We’ll see what we can improve for tomorrow.”
The three-time defending champion leads second-placed Fernando Alonso by an intimidating 46 points in the standings.
Red Bull has not achieved the best results at Monza, and Vettel’s win two years ago is its only podium position since 2005. However, the German looked in impressive form and could be on course for a fourth victory of 2013.
“We seem OK here, although it’s only Friday,” Webber said. “We seemed good on Friday in Spa and then everyone was with us in P3. But, that said, the car feels good although we have some work to do to prepare for the race, so let’s see tomorrow.”
Kimi Raikkonen was third in perfect conditions at Monza, 0.663 seconds behind Vettel, with the same time as Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean.
Alonso, Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez completed the top 10 with little more than half a second between Perez, in 10th, and Webber.
Hamilton, who won at Monza last year, was fastest in the morning session, 0.035 seconds better than Alonso, with Vettel fourth quickest, 0.188 seconds slower.
Rosberg was third, 0.139 seconds slower than his Mercedes teammate. Hamilton has qualified in pole position in the past four races, while his team has done so in eight of the past nine.
The field was more tightly packed at a high-speed Monza track in the morning, with less than half a second separating Hamilton from Button in seventh. There was less than a second gap between the top 14, with Massa only 0.884 seconds slower than Hamilton.
Ferrari was fined 10,000 euros ($13,000) after Massa crossed the white line at the end of the pit lane after the red light had come on to indicate the end of the first practice session.
An investigation by stewards determined the Brazilian “had made every attempt to stop” and that “no sporting advantage was gained” but added that “the team made an error in releasing the car with insufficient time remaining in the session.”