Monza FP1: Hamilton and Mercedes way ahead
Mercedes were in a league of their own in the first practice session ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, with F1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton heading team-mate Nico Rosberg in a one-two for the German marque, with Hamilton finishing over 1.5 seconds ahead of nearest non-Mercedes rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.
The opening practice session of the weekend at Monza began quietly and there were 13 minutes on the clock before Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen set the first timed lap of the day. His team-mate Carlos Sainz was swiftly back to the pit lane afterward reporting “false upshifts” on his initial lap. Hi went out again but his gearbox issues persisted and he was soon back in the garage.
Mercedes arrived in Monza with an uprated engine and Hamilton made the improvement tell, the Briton surging to the top of the timesheet, with Rosberg slotting into second place. With half an hour on the clock the Briton headed the pack with a time of 1:25.653, nine tenths of a second clear of Rosberg and almost a second ahead of Vettel.
Sainz, meanwhile, was back on track but the Spaniard’s tricky session went awry once more when he spun at the Parbolica causing the red flags to be waved.
As the hour mark approached, however, Rosberg returned to the track and promptly set a new fastest time of 1:25.423. Hamilton was quickly in control once again, however, the Briton emerging to retake top spot with a lap of 1:25.152. He then cemented himself into top spot by logging a time of 1:24.670. He would remain the only driver to dip below the 85 seconds mark all session.
With time running out in the session Vettel made a late improvement to take third place with a lap of 1:26.258, though that was 1.588 seconds down on Hamilton’s best time.
Nico Hulkenberg was fourth fastest ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez, as Force India looked strong, but were a whopping two seconds adrift of the leading works Mercedes.
Kimi Raikkonen was sixth fastest albeit half a second down on his Ferrari teammate, ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo who was followed by the Williams pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa. Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado completed the top ten.
Italian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 4 September 2015
|4||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:26.612||+1.942s||19|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:26.730||+2.060s||29|
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||1:26.922||+2.252s||27|
|12||26||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||1:27.275||+2.605s||29|
|14||33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:27.591||+2.921s||27|
|16||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:27.907||+3.237s||8|