Sebastian Vettel fastest in Italian Grand Prix practice ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen

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Sebastian Vettel led a Ferrari one-two in a second practice session for the Italian Grand Prix.

The German clocked a best lap of one minute and 21.105 seconds to outstrip the Finn by two-tenths of a second at the high-speed Autodromo Nazionale.

Lewis Hamilton, who holds a 17-point championship lead over Vettel, finished third, 0.287 seconds slower than his title rival.

The British driver won from pole position last season, and has qualified first at Monza for the past four years, but, just as in Belgium last weekend, Mercedes are on the back foot.

Ferrari may have not celebrated a win on home turf since Fernando Alonso took the chequered flag in 2010. But Vettel, who escaped without damage following a spin into the gravel at the Parabolica, insisted he does not feel any extra pressure to deliver in front of the expectant tifosi.

“We are in Italy, in the home country of Ferrari, and everybody, not only the Ferrari drivers, can feel and sense that there is something special going on,” he said.
“Myself and Kimi have the two most special seats this weekend, and I am looking forward to it.

“People forget that for the last five years, Mercedes have been absolutely dominant, so it is good to be up with them, and a match, but we cannot take anything for granted.”

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German GP on 2019 F1 calendar as 21-race season ends in December

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The 2019 Formula One season will run into December for the first time in more than half-a-century.

A provisional 21-race calendar for next year, which includes the previously under-threat German Grand Prix, was released by F1 on Friday.

Melbourne’s Albert Park will play host to the season-opening round on March 17, with the final race to be staged at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on December 1.

The 1963 South African Grand Prix was the last F1 race to take place in December, although that year’s 10-round calendar kicked off in May.

There will be no triple-header next season with the British Grand Prix – as it stands, the last to be staged at Silverstone – moved back by one week. The race will clash with the men’s Wimbledon final on July 14.

F1 also announced a renewal of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka until 2021, while the sport’s 1,000th race will be held in China on April 14.

F1’s American owners Liberty Media had already announced that plans for a race in Miami, first pencilled in for 2019, have been put on hold for at least another 12 months.

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Watch: Hamilton is one win away from equalling Schumacher's record at Monza and other stats

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Sebastian Vettel can close the gap, or even overhaul it, when he takes on championship leader Lewis Hamilton again this weekend in what should be a supercharged Italian Grand Prix.

On Ferrari’s local track and in front of the tifosi, at the famous old Autodromo Nazionale, the four-time champion German can also equal Stirling Moss’s 1950s record of winning at Monza with three different teams if he delivers Ferrari’s first home win since 2010.

Monza holds special memories for Vettel after his wins with Toro Rosso in 2008 and then Red Bull in 2011 and 2013. His maiden win in torrential rain a decade ago remains Toro Rosso’s greatest hour and the moment that signalled he was a future champion.

Another victory this weekend would draw him level with Hamilton on four wins and, if the Briton suffers ill fortune, could also catapult Vettel into the lead of the drivers’ championship.

Watch the video below for more stats ahead of the race.

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