FP1: Hamilton leads Verstappen in first practice before qualifying at Monza
The first and only practice session ahead of qualifying at Monza saw Lewis Hamilton finish quickest on medium tyres for Mercedes, with rival Max Verstappen second for Red Bull – nearly half a second off the pace on soft tyres.
With just two practice sessions this weekend as the F1 Sprint format returns for a second trial, the drivers wasted no time getting out on track and it was Perez who set the benchmark on a new set of medium tyres 25 minutes in. But Hamilton emerged on a new set of mediums with 16 minutes remaining to go first with a lap of 1m20.926s, with runner-up Verstappen 0.452s off on soft tyres.
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Valtteri Bottas was third quickest for Mercedes – the Silver Arrows saving their soft tyres for qualifying – having exclusively used mediums in FP1 alongside his team mate.
That left Lance Stroll fourth for Aston Martin, Pierre Gasly fifth and Stroll's team mate Sebastian Vettel in P6.
FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN GRAN PREMIO D’ITALIA 2021
Practice 1 results
|1 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||1:20.926|
|2 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||+0.452s|
|3 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes||+0.525s|
|4 Lance Stroll STR Aston Martin||+0.750s|
|5 Pierre Gasly GAS AlphaTauri||+0.793s|
Carlos Sainz finished seventh, 0.988s off Hamilton, for Ferrari and ahead of compatriot Fernando Alonso – who was a second off P1 for Alpine in P8.
Daniel Ricciardo (with a lap time deleted) took ninth for McLaren behind the Alpine driver, both of those teams forgoing medium-tyred running in FP1. That left Sergio Perez rounding out the top 10 for Red Bull, 1.113s off the pace on softs.
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Charles Leclerc, in P11, and Lando Norris in P12, were bumped out of the top 10 having also had late flying laps struck off for track limits infractions. Norris's effort on mediums could have put him in the top three.
Antonio Giovinazzi was 13th for new-look Alfa Romeo, his stand-in team mate Robert Kubica finishing 16th with Kimi Raikkonen absent.
Yuki Tsunoda's early running was interrupted by loose seatbelts and a wheel-to-wheel tussle with Nikita Mazepin, but he recovered to finish 14th for AlphaTauri, ahead of Alpine's Esteban Ocon.
George Russell carried a helmet-mounted camera to give us a first-person view of his pace in the Williams, the Mercedes-bound driver finishing 17th in FP1 having spent much of the session on hards. Team mate Nicholas Latifi was 18th, leaving Haas pair Mazepin (19th) and Mick Schumacher (20th) to round out the standings.
READ MORE: After a glut of driver news it’s time to focus on racing – but will the F1 Sprint shake up the title fight at Monza?
The action comes thick and fast with qualifiyng, which will set the grid for Saturday's Sprint, at 1800 local time. Who will take the Pirelli Speed King Award at Monza? Stay tuned to F1.com to find out...