Championship leader Lewis Hamilton said he was expecting a close battle with the Ferraris during Italian Grand Prix race at Monza.
The Ferrari duo, Kimi Raikkonen was only 0.234 behind and Sebastian Vettel was 0.288 back.
The lengthy straights at Monza require a strong engine and Ferrari’s improvements were immediately clear with Kimi Raikkonen two tenths of a second behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton despite Mercedes spending seven tokens of their own on development this week.
“They’ve definitely made a step with the engine for qualifying.” Hamilton told BBC Sport
“It’s great to see them giving us a bigger run for our money. I’m expecting [a close challenge in the race] but the engineers I don’t believe are.”
“I didn’t do the perfect lap; if I had the gap would have been a little bit more.” The Brit added
Following the qualifying, Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff says that the team had not yet identified what the issue was. Hamilton took pole by 0.234secs from Raikkonen and Wolff admitted he was “a bit surprised” to see such a small margin
The second Mercedes speedy, Nico Rosberg was +0.306 off team-mate Hamilton, after he had to revert to an old engine, as his new spec engine encountered problems post FP3.
But the German said he was confident of being able to challenge the Ferraris in the race: “The Ferraris, yes,” he said. “Lewis is more difficult.”