Lewis Hamilton suspects traffic will prove to be a “nightmare” during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix with Formula 1 drivers eyeing a laptime gain from the slipstream.

The slipstream effect at the high-speed Monza circuit is particularly powerful and drivers are expected to try and benefit by running closely behind another car as it punches a hole in the air down the track’s long straights.

Drivers were seen practising slipstreaming throughout both practice sessions and were jostling for position as the field bunched up on the back straight heading to the Parabolica before beginning their Soft tyre runs.

The FIA has issued a warning to the drivers about driving too slowly on their outlaps in a bid to avoid a repeat of the farcical scenes that took place during last year’s qualifying session.

Several drivers, including Hamilton, were unable to complete their final runs in Q3 at Monza last year after the final 10 runners crawled around the circuit to avoid being at the front of the queue and subsequently missing out on the toe.

“It was difficult in the past and obviously we didn’t even get to do the last lap last year, so I think it’s going to be interesting,” Hamilton said.

“I heard they might put in place a minimum time that we have to do an out lap so maybe that will help.

“But still I think it’ll be a nightmare at the last corner with everyone trying to get a gap - it’s definitely going to be hard work.”

The six-times world champion outpaced teammate Valtteri Bottas by over two-tenths in FP2 as the Mercedes drivers ended Friday practice for the Italian Grand Prix nearly a second clear of the rest.

“I’ve not really been looking at the times, I’ve just really been working on set-up, and so I don’t really know how close I am to him [Bottas] or he is to me,” Hamilton explained.

“Just trying to make sure I get the right balance for a single lap, as it’s really hard to overtake here, and then to figure out how to get the balance right for the race.

“It felt like we made some improvement from P1 to P2, in P1 it didn’t feel great,” he added.

“But then because it’s all low downforce here obviously, a lot of sliding around, then FP2 some steps in the right direction. It’s going to be close between a bunch of people I think.”

Bottas said he was lacking rear stability in his W11 during second practice and feels there is more pace to come from his side before qualifying.

“I would say the biggest for me was lacking rear stability in a few corners, but other than that it was pretty good,” the Finn said.

“There is always more to come for sure. I think my lap in FP2 wasn’t that great, so also from my side there’s quite a bit more to come. I’m sure it’s the same thing for every team.”

 

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