Motor racing: Carlos Sainz crashes as Lewis Hamilton leads final Italian GP practice

Carlos Sainz had smashed head-on into the barriers at the Ascari chicane.
Carlos Sainz had smashed head-on into the barriers at the Ascari chicane.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Carlos Sainz crashed his Ferrari heavily in final Monza practice for the team's home Italian Grand Prix on Saturday (Sept 11), as seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was fastest for Mercedes.

The Spaniard halted the session when he smashed head-on into the barriers at the Ascari chicane with just over half an hour remaining.

"I had a massive crash," he said over the radio. "That hurt a bit but I'm OK."

Sainz, who also crashed in Saturday practice at last weekend's Dutch Grand Prix, was taken to the medical centre and the session resumed with some 20 minutes left.

The stricken Ferrari was returned to the pit lane, with the mechanics facing a race against time to get it ready for the afternoon's sprint, which sets the grid for Sunday's grand prix at the fastest circuit on the calendar.

FIA race director Michael Masi said Sainz had been given preliminary clearance but would have another check before the sprint.

He had qualified seventh fastest on Friday with the sprint awarding points to the top three. The experimental format is being tried out for the second time after a debut at Silverstone in July.

Hamilton's time of 1min 23.246sec was 0.222 quicker than Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas, who qualified fastest on Friday.

Red Bull's championship leader Max Verstappen, who won his seventh race of the season last week at Zandvoort, was third quickest, 0.416 slower than Hamilton, with teammate Sergio Perez fourth.

Mercedes have indicated that they will tell Bottas to let Hamilton pass in the sprint race, given the championship situation, if circumstances allow.

Verstappen is three points clear of the Briton after 13 races and Bottas will start at the back of the grid on Sunday after an engine change on Friday triggered an automatic penalty.