Mercedes powers ahead in opening practice at Monza

Mercedes were in a league of their own in the first practice session ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, with F1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton heading team-mate Nico Rosberg in a one-two for the German marque, with Hamilton finishing over 1.5s ahead of nearest non-Mercedes rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.

The opening practice session of the weekend at Monza began quietly and there were 13 minutes on the clock before Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen set the first timed lap of the day. His team-mate Carlos Sainz was swiftly back to the pit lane afterward reporting “false upshifts” on his initial lap. Hi went out again but his gearbox issues persisted and he was soon back in the garage.

Mercedes arrived in Monza with an uprated engine and Hamilton made the improvement tell, the Briton surging to the top of the timesheet, with Rosberg slotting into second place. With half an hour on the clock the Briton headed the pack with a time of 1:25.653, nine tenths of a second clear of Rosberg and almost a second ahead of Vettel.

Sainz, meanwhile, was back on track but the Spaniard’s tricky session went awry once more when he spun at the Parbolica causing the red flags to be waved.

The session was stopped for almost ten minutes and it was followed by a relatively quiet period in which there were few major improvements in lap time.

As the hour mark approached, however, Rosberg returned to the track and promptly set a new fastest time of 1:25.423. Hamilton was quickly in control once again, however, the Briton emerging to retake top spot with a lap of 1:25.152. He then cemented himself into top spot by logging a time of 1:24.670. He would remain the only driver to dip below the 1m25s mark all session.

With time running out in the session Vettel made a late improvement to take third place with a lap of 1:26.258, though that was 1.588s down on Hamilton’s best time.

Nico Hulkenberg was fourth fastest ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez, as Force India began the weekend well, but the pair were two seconds adrift of the leading works Mercedes.

Kimi Raikkonen finished in sixth in the second Ferrari, ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo who was followed by the Williams pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa. Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado completed the top 10 order.

2015 Italian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:24.670 25
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:25.133 0.463 22
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:26.258 1.588 17
4 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:26.612 1.942 19
5 Sergio Perez Force India 1:26.730 2.060 29
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:26.783 2.113 16
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:26.922 2.252 27
8 Felipe Massa Williams 1:26.936 2.266 22
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:27.075 2.405 25
10 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:27.118 2.448 28
11 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:27.232 2.562 21
12 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:27.275 2.605 29
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:27.454 2.784 17
14 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:27.591 2.921 27
15 Jolyon Palmer Lotus 1:27.669 2.999 28
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:27.907 3.237 8
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:28.023 3.353 11
18 Jenson Button McLaren 1:28.423 3.753 12
19 Will Stevens Marussia 1:29.853 5.183 22
20 Roberto Merhi Marussia 1:29.911 5.241 12


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