Sergio Perez was fastest in wet conditions during the first practice session for the Italian Grand Prix. The Mexican put his Force India half a second faster than the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, as the circuit improved rapidly after heavy rain during the morning.
Perez set his time in the closing moments of the session to outpace the Finn, while his teammate Esteban Ocon was third a further tenth behind. The session started under heavy rain, but it was Raikkonen who lead the early pace which was half a second off the overall pace.
Force India, the new team, has made an impressive start to the second half of the season and appear to have the pace in the wet which also saw the team qualify on row two in Spa on Saturday. However, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was forced to sit out most of the session with a gearbox change.
The German will not receive a penalty for the change as it was not part of his race gearbox allocation. Red Bull drivers performed well as Brendon Hartley put his Toro Rosso fourth fastest, almost two tenths faster than Daniel Ricciardo.
Mercedes and Ferrari where always unlikely to show full pace or performance in the conditions. Unless the conditions radically improve into FP2, tomorrow and Sunday’s race could be unknown.
However, it wasn’t straightforward for Ricciardo he lost most of the session with engine problems, setting his fastest time towards the end of the session when the track had dried.
What made it worst for Ricciardo, was he was running with the new spec of the Renault power unit, while his teammate Max Verstappen was seventh fastest using the B Spec power unit. The team are going to decide tonight if they will use it this weekend.
Carlos Sainz was nearly two tenths faster than his Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg in ninth. That put them ahead of both the Mercedes, with Valtteri Bottas tenth and Lewis Hamilton two tenth behind. However, both the silver arrows set their laps when the track was drier.
Lando Norris was back in the McLaren as the team is considering whether to replace Stoffel Vandoorne next season. The Bristolian spent much of his session behind teammate Fernando Alonso who was fourteenth.
Charles Leclerc, a man being considered for the Ferrari, put his Sauber twelfth fastest four tenths faster than the Haas of Romain Grosjean. While his teammate Marcus Ericsson was sixteenth.
The two Williams drivers were the slowest of the regular race drivers with Sergey Sirotkin ahead of teammate Lance Stroll.