First blood to Hamilton after FP1 at Monza

24 - hamilton_fp1_monza_mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has begun his Italian Grand Prix weekend in fine form, topping the timing sheets for Mercedes ahead of former team-mate Jenson Button. The British duo were closely followed by the second Mercedes and Championship leader of Nico Rosberg.

The opening practice session of the Italian Grand Prix weekend began in overcast conditions and with a whole host of temporary driver changes. For the opening 30 minutes Sergio Perez would step aside of Dani Juncadella at Force India, whilst Giedo van der Garde once again stepped into the driving seat at Sauber in place of Adrian Sutil, Charles Pic replaced Romain Grosjean at Lotus and Formula Renault 3.5 ace Roberto Merhi made his Formula One debut at Caterham in place of the returning Kamui Kobayashi.

Eventually Marcus Ericsson became the first driver to take to the Autodromo di Monza once the session officially began, leading out a long line of drivers who seemed incredibly eager to get their respective weekends’ underway. Despite the instant flurry of track activity, only installation laps were initially completed, before Max Chilton finally produced a 01:33.435 in the Marussia, a time which the Briton soon improved on with a 01:32.546.

Soon the times began to tumble in traditional style, once more drivers elected to return to the track after completing their installation laps. Jean-Eric Vergne rose to the top for Toro Rosso with a 01:30.511, before Kevin Magnussen in the McLaren soon catapulted himself to the top of the timing sheets with a 01:28.256. The Danish rookie continued to improve as the session progressed, whilst the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo both momentarily suffered with DRS issues.

As the Spanish duo of Alonso and Juncadella ran wide at turn one, 2009 World Champion Jenson Button managed to rise ahead of his McLaren team-mate with a 01:27.158. However, normality at the sharp-end of the order was soon resumed, when the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton asserted their authority over proceedings, with the latter in particular producing a 01:27.064.

Whilst Pastor Maldonado proceeded to run wide at turns one and four in the uncompetitive Lotus, Magnussen suffered a rather unforeseen issue when his headrest began to detach itself from his car. The Danish rookie eventually managed to limp back to the pits for repairs, whilst McLaren team-mate Button returned to the top with a 01:26.810. Meanwhile Belgian Grand Prix winner Ricciardo’s session was brought to a premature conclusion after suffering from an engine failure in the Red Bull.

As the session drew to a conclusion, Championship contender Hamilton rose back to the top in the Mercedes with a 01:26.547, a time which the 2008 World Champion soon managed to improve on with a 01:26.187. Meanwhile several drivers began to push beyond the limit in their bid to continue preparing for the weekend ahead, with Merhi, Massa and Perez all running wide at turn one, with the latter bumping precariously over the speed bumps in the process after only just running wide and across the grass at turn eight.

Eventually the checkered flag was unfurled to signal the end of the session, with Lewis Hamilton fastest in the Mercedes ahead of former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button and current team-mate Nico Rosberg. The 22 drivers will return to the Autodromo di Monza later in the day to continue with their preparations during practice two.

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG Petronas

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About Andy's F1 Blog

My name is Andy Young and I have been a motor sport fan since the late 90s when I started watching Formula 1 and ChampCar. Since my earliest recollection of Formula 1 (Brundle’s huge shunt at Melbourne in ’96) I’ve been hooked on the sport. I started writing articles about motor sport in September 2011, and since then have written articles for FinalSector, F1 Tabloid and Nextgen-Auto. My long-term aim is to one day become a payed journalist covering Formula 1 or IndyCar, my two favorite forms of motor sport. I also cover the F1 feeder series’ GP2 and GP3 on my blog, and have watched both seres’ since their inaugural seasons.

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