Hamilton tops opening practice at Monza

Hamilton is the man to beat this weekend
Hamilton is the man to beat this weekend

In a rain affected opening practice for the Italian GP at Monza Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes 1-2 with a time of 1m21.537s to finish 1/2-second ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

The Ferraris were 3rd and 4th fastest but over a second per lap slower with Sebastian Vettel the faster of the two 1.115 seconds behind Hamilton. However, expect that gap to narrow significantly this afternoon.

Daniel Riccardo and Max Verstappen were 5th and 6th for Red Bull.

It was team formation all the way back to P8 in fact, with the Mercedes, followed by the Ferraris followed by the Red Bulls followed by the Force Indias, proving once again that F1 is 99% car and 1% driver. Aldo Costa, the chief designer for Mercedes, led the first practice session.

The overcast Monza session saw the 60 percent threat of rain realized with 16 minutes remaining. It wasn’t a heavy fall, but left the track greasy.

Bottas set the early pace using the soft Pirelli tires, and was seven-tenths up on Hamilton on similar rubber; the Englishman missed chicanes on three occasions. Ferrari were using the supersofts at the same time, but Vettel was more than a second off Bottas's pace.

When Mercedes tried the supersofts Hamilton got into the 1m 21s, setting the fastest time of 1m 21.537s to Bottas’s 1m 21.972s. Vettel and Raikkonen, on the supersofts, managed 1m 22.652s and 1m 22.689s respectively, and Red Bull were close with Ricciardo on 1m 22.742s and Verstappen on 1m 22.749s.

Both Red Bull drivers are set for grid penalties, however, Ricciardo for using his fifth ICE and turbo and his sixth MGU-H, Verstappen for using his fifth ICE and MGU-H.

At McLaren, Alonso can expect a similar fate. The Spaniard is on his seventh ICE, ninth MGU-H, seventh MGU-K, ninth turbo, sixth energy store and fifth control electronics.

Carlos Sainz, who had a spin on his way to 11th place, will also get a grid penalty for his fifth MGU-H of the season on his Toro Rosso.

Practice 1 Results

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:21.537 +0.000s 28 Mercedes Row
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:21.972 +0.435s 31
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:22.652 +1.115s 24 Ferrari Row
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:22.689 +1.152s 28
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:22.742 +1.205s 28 Red Bull Row
6 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:22.749 +1.212s 23
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:23.317 +1.780s 36 Force India Row
8 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:23.400 +1.863s 34
9 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 1:23.465 +1.928s 24
10 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 1:23.561 +2.024s 37
11 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:23.680 +2.143s 22
12 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:23.973 +2.436s 22
13 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:23.991 +2.454s 30
14 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:24.012 +2.475s 27
15 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:24.015 +2.478s 17
16 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:24.079 +2.542s 22
17 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:24.542 +3.005s 17 Renault Row
18 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:25.166 +3.629s 21
19 94 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:25.223 +3.686s 26 Sauber Row
20 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:25.687 +4.150s 17

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