ITALIAN GP – Lewis Hamilton sets the pace in first practice almost half a second ahead of Max Verstappen

Testing & Race Reports

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the first practice session for the Italian Grand Prix, after going four and a half tenths ahead of his championship rival Max Verstappen. The Mercedes driver set his fastest time on the medium tyre suggesting there is more pace to come when they switch to soft tyres this evening for qualifying.

Mercedes are looking to come back at Red Bull this weekend having only won one race since mid-June and it’s widely expected that the high-speed Monza circuit will suit the German manufacturer. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was third fastest seven hundredths behind Verstappen.

Aston Martin had a strong start to the weekend, Lance Stroll going fourth fastest seven tenths off the pace and almost two tenths faster than teammate Sebastian Vettel, although the duo was spilt by the Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman going nine and a half tenths quicker than Vettel.

Aston Martin looking to have a good pace at the low-downforce circuit.

Carlos Sainz put his Ferrari seventh fastest, the Spaniard going a hundredth faster than Fernando Alonso. The Alpine driver being exactly a second off the pace of Hamilton, but was seven hundredths ahead of Daniel Ricciardo with Sergio Perez rounding out the top ten.

Alonso’s fastest lap came right at the end of the session to edge out Ricciardo, both managed to improve on the medium. However, Perez only managed to gain a tenth on his mid-session time which left him tenth fastest.

The F1 Sprint format returns this weekend after a successful debut at Silverstone, with a eighteen lap dash around Monza, the sport’s fastest track, added to the schedule on Saturday, setting the grid for Sunday’s race.

Charles Leclerc was eleventh fastest going two and three quarters of a tenth ahead of Lando Norris. It was a difficult session for the McLaren driver, he complained about a “spongy” brake pedal, which lead to him missing the Rettifilo Chicane three times during the session.

But the Englishman remained a quarter of a second ahead of the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi. Yuki Tsunoda was fourteen over a second and a half off the pace in his Alpha Tauri, but he had some problems with seat belts and a power issue during the session.

Esteban Ocon was fifteenth going ahead of Robert Kubica by four-tenths of a second, the Polish driver standing in for Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo. George Russell was four-tenths faster than Williams teammate Nicolas Latifi, the British team looking to struggle more at Monza following really strong recent races.

Nikita Mazepin was just over a tenth faster than his Haas teammate Mick Schumacher.

Qualifying starts at 18:00 CEST, 17:00BST.

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