Lewis Hamilton was fastest during the first practice session ahead of the Italian Grand Prix. The current world champion beat his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in third.
Both Mercedes have an upgraded engine which helped Hamilton go 1.5 seconds faster than the Ferrari.
Nico Hulkenberg was on form for Force India going fourth fastest but a suspected fuel leak halted the German’s running with ten minutes remaining. Hulkenberg said on team radio “I have a wet bum it smells like petrol.”
Hulkenberg was however quicker than his team-mate Sergio Perez, the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari.
Vettel had a spin at the first chicane and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz brought out the red flag after he went off at the Parabolica. Mercedes have confirmed that they have used their nine remaining engine tokens to upgrade the car for this weekend.
However they warned that people shouldn’t read too much into the speed-trap figures, or the lap times saying they were running fresh engines and the other teams “are probably on older ones”.
But the upgrade appeared initially to have made a significant difference to performance.
Rosberg has admitted he needs to start closing the gap if he is to be in contention for the title.