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Massa heads Williams 1-2 in rain hit final practice

NEWS STORY
02/09/2017

Ahead of today's sole practice session, the air temperature is 14 degrees C, while the track temperature is 16 degrees. As predicted, it is wet, very wet - indeed, so wet GP3 qualifying was cancelled.

It has rained for much of the night and continues this morning, with the likelihood of more throughout the day. Tomorrow, on the other hand, should be dry and sunny. Such is Monza.

Mercedes topped the timesheets in both sessions yesterday, Hamilton leading the way in FP1 and Bottas in the second session.

However, while the gap to Ferrari in the opening session was over a second, in FP2 the red cars were just 0.3s off the pace.

While the Red Bulls were next up in both sessions, both drivers have grid penalties for tomorrow's race - as do Alonso and Sainz.

Looking at today's weather yesterday's form is pretty much out of the window, while the prospect of another change in the weather tomorrow leaves the teams with a dilemma.

At 10:55 (local time) Race Control announces that the start of the session is delayed... indefinitely. Oh, and it's wet.

With no work to do, the drivers chat, listen to music and, in Vettel's case, wave to the fans.

Verstappen gets into his car but subsequently gets out again, aware that he's not going anywhere anytime soon.

At 11:15 a further track inspection is carried out, and the fact the Safety Car is struggling for grip tells you all you need to know. Indeed, following that investigation, Race Control confirms "no change in conditions". Imagine our surprise.

At 11:22 Charlie Whiting confirms there will be a further check at 11:30 admitting that if it stops raining he believes the track will be usable quite soon afterwards, but not while it's still raining. He also confirms that FP3 cannot be delayed and that if the rain continues there will be no practice session, which would leave the teams heading into qualifying with no wet data.

Following another inspection, which again sees the Safety Car slipping and sliding, Race Control announces that the session - such as it is - be start at 11:44, thereby leaving 16 minutes of running.

Several minutes before the 11:44 start, the Red Bulls head down the pitlane... both drivers no doubt hoping the rain continues until tomorrow afternoon.

"Straight out, no procedures, get on with it," Ricciardo is told.

They head out, among them Vettel, who has fond memories of the place in the wet.

On board with Ricciardo and the Australian is doing his level best to avoid those slippery kerbs.

Most return to their garages, but Sainz, Raikkonen and Kvyat stay out, even though the rain has increased in intensity. Perez, Stroll, Massa and the Mercedes duo are no shows.

Sainz posts the first time of the day, crossing the line at 1:42.973. Only 21s off yesterday's dry pace.

As Bottas heads out, the Finn is warned that it's raining harder.

Kvyat posts 45.033.

As Sainz misses the first chicane, having improved to 41.515, Ocon has major problems leaving it.

Ericsson splits the Toro Rosso duo with a 44.701 as Bottas pits.

With 8:38 remaining, Hamilton heads out. "This is a potential qualifying tyre so don't damage it," he is told.

Perez is told to pit due to the risk of aquaplaning.

The first chicane is proving particularly challenging, Hulkenberg really struggling to keep it under control.

At 7:00 the Williams duo are the last to head out.

Hulkenberg posts 41.491 to go quickest... of four.

Massa goes third (42.196) and Stroll fourth (42.569) as Palmer also posts a time (44.369).

Massa improves to 40.660 and Stroll 40.888 as the Grove duo go first and second.

While most of the big guns prefer to remain in their garages, Raikkonen heads out for a late run, as does teammate Vettel.

Despite going quickest in S2, Raikkonen dives into the pits, as does Vettel, who was quickest in S1.

The session ends with just seven names on the timesheet.

Massa, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Palmer, Ericsson and Kvyat.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Monza, here.

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