Italian GP: Mercedes in a league apart in first practice

Lewis Hamilton led teammate Nico Rosberg in opening practice for the Italian Grand Prix as Mercedes was in a league apart as the action kicked off at Monza.

Hamilton's best of 1:24.670 put him nearly half a second ahead of Rosberg, but over 1.5 seconds in front of the closes non-Mercedes car.

A late improvement from Sebastian Vettel elevated him to third place in the Ferrari, before the German spun at the first chicane with seven minutes to go.

Nico Hulkenberg was fourth fastest ahead of teammate Sergio Perez, as Force India began the weekend in strong fashion. They were two seconds off Hamilton's pace, however.

Kimi Raikkonen finished in sixth in the second Ferrari, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.

Pastor Maldonado completed the top 10 in the Lotus.

McLaren had a short session as both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso stopped in the pits early for a scheduled engine change. They both finished over three seconds off the pace.

It took nearly 13 minutes for a driver to appear on the timesheets, when Max Verstappen completed the first timed lap as Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz was forced to return to the pits after complaining repeatedly of problems when changing gears.

Hamilton took first place 19 minutes into the session with the first lap in the 1:27s, over half a second clear of the opposition at the time.

Maldonado jumped to P1 briefly before Hamilton completed another flyer - a 1:26.305 - to regain the top stop, followed by teammate Rosberg, less than three tenths behind.

But the reigning world champion opened a gap of nearly a full second on his fifth lap, setting a new benchmark of 1:25.653.

After his early problems, things would go worse for Sainz after the Spaniard lost control of his car at Parabolica, ending up in the gravel and forcing the session to be red-flagged right before the half-hour mark.

The Toro Rosso driver ended the session with just eight laps and near the bottom of the times.

The action resumed after over 10 minutes of silence, but it took until the one-hour mark for a change at the top of the times, when Rosberg posted a quickest time of 1:25.423 to outpace Hamilton by nearly three tenths of a second.

Hamilton reacted right away and retook the top spot with a 1:25.152.

Rosberg improved seconds later, but fell just 0.011 seconds short of Hamilton's best.

Hamilton went even faster, however, becoming the first man to dip into the 1:24s with a 1:24.670, a time that would remain unbeaten.

 Pos  Driver  Team  Time  Gap   Laps 
 Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes 1'24.670   25
 Nico Rosberg  Mercedes 1'25.133 0.463 22
 Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari 1'26.258 1.588 17
 Nico Hulkenberg  Force India 1'26.612 1.942 19
 Sergio Perez  Force India 1'26.730 2.060 29
 Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari 1'26.783 2.113 16
 Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull 1'26.922 2.252 27
 Felipe Massa  Williams 1'26.936 2.266 22
 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 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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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Italian GP
Sub-event Friday practice 1
Track Autodromo Nazionale Monza
Article type Practice report