Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton ended the first practice session for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, over a second clear of their rivals.
Rosberg topped the session with a 1:22.959s which is faster than last year’s pole time. It was also two-tenths quicker than Hamilton’s best effort which was 0.203 slower. Kimi Raikkonen was best of the race but was ultimately a second off Rosberg on a weekend which has seen Ferrari introduce their final engine upgrade of the season. The Italian team were ahead of championship rivals Red Bull Racing. The second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel was fourth while the two Red Bulls were eighth and tenth.
In fifth place was the Force India of Sergio Perez who set 32 laps with a best lap time that was just over a second and a half behind pacesetter Nico Rosberg. Romain Grosjean’s Haas was sixth on the timesheets after 90 minutes of running. His lap was set on the SuperSoft tyres and will give the team a much-needed boost in confidence after they worked tirelessly throughout the session on their new Monza-spec rear wing. Grosjean’s teammate Gutierrez found himself in ninth position, three-tenths off the Frenchman.
Valtteri Bottas completed 35 laps in what was a busy session for the Finish star. He ended up in seventh place ahead of Max Verstappen and within two-tenths of the leading Force India despite being on slower tyres. This will give Williams faith that they can reclaim fourth in the Constructors’ Championship this weekend. Button and Alonso were 11th and 13th and showed decent speed through the speed trap considering that this is a Power Unit dependant track, it’s another encouraging sign for McLaren that Honda is making real progress with the Power Unit. However, Alonso did suffer from a gearbox issue which briefly halted his progress in the session.
Sandwiched between the McLaren duo was Alfonso Celis who took over Nico Hulkenberg’s seat for this first practice session. He ran purely on the SuperSoft tyres and ended the session under eight-tenths off Sergio Perez. Hulkenberg will be back in the car for the rest of the weekend. Felipe Massa, who announced his retirement yesterday, finished the session in 14th ahead of Ericsson, Sainz, Kvyat, Ocon and Felipe Nasr, who reported on the radio a lack of power on the straights, something the Sauber team have struggled with all season. For the second week running, Pascal Wehrlein was the slower of the two Manors in the first practice session.
For the second week running, Pascal Wehrlein was the slower of the two Manors in the first practice session, the German’s car suffered a DRS malfunction. The two Renault’s of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen ended the session at the bottom of the timesheet, nearly four seconds off Rosberg’s fastest time. They are expected to struggle this weekend and will be in a close battle with Toro Rosso, Sauber and Manor to stay off the back row of the grid for Sunday’s race. The halo was tested at the start of the session by Max Verstappen, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.
The second practice session will get underway at 1300BST