Lewis Hamilton accepts Mercedes is playing catch up to Ferrari at Monza and says the areas his team is weaker compared to its rivals are clear to see.

For the majority of the European races Mercedes has placed the favourites tag on Ferrari and Hamilton is certain it remains the case at the Italian team’s home race due to the power-sensitive circuit.

Ferrari duly swept to a 1-2 in the dry FP2 session, having seen the morning session hampered by rain, with Hamilton leading Mercedes’ charge in third place just 0.287s off Sebastian Vettel’s top time.

The F1 world championship leader concedes Mercedes is trailing to Ferrari on both qualifying and race pace but ‘can see deficits’ which are believed to be on initial acceleration out of the corners and outright top speed gained from Ferrari's recent power unit updates.

“We did plenty of laps this afternoon in the dry and we could see that, like in Spa, we had a small gap to Ferrari on both the short and the long runs. My laps felt pretty good, but Ferrari was a little bit quicker today,” Hamilton said.

“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.”

Bottas has echoed his teammate’s sentiments after ending Friday practice fourth quickest, over four-tenths of a second off Hamilton, but feels noticeable improvements have been found from the Mercedes package since the Belgium Grand Prix to close the gap to Ferrari.

“As expected, Ferrari seemed very quick in the dry,” Bottas said. “It's not going to be easy, but we still have a few things we can improve for qualifying.

“Compared to Spa, the car felt better in the slow corners which is a good step in the right direction. The weather forecast for tomorrow is not entirely conclusive, so we need to be prepared for everything and get a lot of running done in FP3 no matter if it's wet or dry.”

 

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