Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fastest in a wet first practice session ahead of the Italian Grand Prix. The Monacan was three tenths faster than the McLaren of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. The session saw many of the teams do limited running due to the conditions.
Fresh from the difficult weekend in Spa, Leclerc set his time in the closing part of the session when drivers took the risk of running on slicks. But throughout the session drivers struggled to keep the cars on the track as it rubbered in times soon dropped dramatically.
Leclerc’s first lap on slicks was two seconds slower in each of the first two sectors, but with DRS enabled and the track at its driest his final sector was a personal best.
Initial flying laps were completed with full wet tyres but drivers switched to intermediates quite early. Leclerc’s time was around eight seconds off the dry weather time. Mercedes Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest eight tenths off the pace.
The world champion was held up in the fastest part of the session at the end by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The German was clearly slower than Hamilton but would not let him by.
Sainz had a harmless spin exiting the same corner but Perez was not so lucky and his car slid backwards across the track and hit the wall heavily.
Impressive running from McLaren saw Norris go off in the still-damp first chicane on soft tyres, while Leclerc had a small moment at the second chicane on his second lap, as did Vettel.
As ever tricky conditions led to accidents, the first to make a mistake was Kimi Raikkonen. The Alfa Romeo driver appeared to lose grip through Ascari and then couldn’t get the power down on the straight before spinning through the Parabolica becoming beached.
Sergio Perez was next to lose it through Ascari, the Racing Point struggling for grip and slid into the wall. Sainz was lucky to avoid lasting damage, as he went off at the same corner.
Drivers completed some sensible running between the second and third red flags as the track continued to dry, although many complained of tyre temperatures being an issue. Pierre Gasly became beached under braking through the first chicane.
The red flag was quickly withdrawn, as the Frenchman got going again with the help of some marshals but the session had already been halted.
Red Bull’s Alex Albon was fifth fastest impressing on his second weekend and his first wet session for the team, going nearly a second faster than teammate Max Verstappen.
Sebastian Vettel could only manage eighth, two and a half-second off Leclerc as he struggled for confidence on the mediums. Valtteri Bottas also struggled, spinning his Mercedes through Goodyear on his soft run.
There was a big gap between Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi, two seconds between tenth and eleventh. The smaller teams struggle slightly more, the Italian also struggling through the chicane.