FP1: Hamilton tops the opening practice as Mercedes-powered cars smash the opposition

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP Italy, Autodromo Nazionale di Monzait

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton topped the only practice session ahead of this afternoon’s qualifying session in a practice which was dominated by the Mercedes-powered cars. Championship leader Max Verstappen was half a second adrift of his rival despite using the softest compound.

It came as no surprise that the Mercedes-powered cars dominated Free Practice 1 for the Italian Grand Prix as the hybrid power unit from Brackley has been believed to enjoy a significant advantage over the products of its rivals, Renault, Ferrari and Honda since early summer.

While Mercedes dismisses 'special engine solution', Red Bull is said to have lodged a query with the FIA regarding a design concept that it believes Mercedes is running. The Milton Keynes-based outfit suspects that the Mercedes engines have been gaining in the early phase of acceleration, which, they believe, is down to Mercedes super cooling air.

Round 14 of the 2021 F1 season marks the second event featuring the Sprint Qualifying format, which means that there is only a single practice session before qualifying takes place on Friday evening. As a consequence, the Italian Grand Prix started with an eventful practice with drivers and engineers eager to fine-tune the cars before parc ferme conditions are in effect from the time drivers first exit the pits during qualifying.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton got a perfect start to his weekend after the Dutch Grand Prix that saw him lose the championship lead to Max Verstappen. The Briton used three sets of Medium compound in the practice session, saving his two sets of Hard and eight sets of Soft for the remainder of the event.

Hamilton started his practice in top form, leading the majority of the session. He conducted his qualifying simulation on the yellow-walled compound, registering a time of 1m20.926s. Verstappen used all three types of Pirelli’s three-compound selection for this weekend, starting with the hard before switching to the medium. He posted his fastest lap on the red-walled softs, but he was almost half a second shy of Hamilton despite the Briton using a harder compound.

Behind the leading duo were Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finishing in P5. Another Mercedes-powered car, Sebastian Vettel followed with Carlos Sainz having taken 7th. Ferrari presented itself in a better shape than it did just a year ago when it reached the lowest point of its dismal season on home turf at Monza. The Spaniard’s team mate Charles Leclerc ended up only 11th, but he had his best lap time deleted for exceeding the track limits at the Parabolica that has just been renamed in honour of Michele Alboreto.

A similar incident happened to McLaren’s Lando Norris which saw the Briton finish down in P12 with his team mate Daniel Ricciardo ending up 9th.

In the lower region of the field, George Russell, who carried a helmet-mounted camera to give us a first-person view of his pace in the Williams, registered the 17th fastest time just a place behind Alfa Romeo’s reserve driver Robert Kubica, who is standing in for Kimi Räikkönen at the second consecutive weekend.

Nicholas Latifi, who has just had his contract with Williams renewed, was 18th, leaving Haas pair Mazepin (19th) and Mick Schumacher (20th) to round out the standings.


144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:20.92628
233Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:21.378+0.452s22
377Valtteri BottasMercedes1:21.451+0.525s29
418Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes1:21.676+0.750s23
510Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Honda1:21.719+0.793s28
65Sebastian VettelAston Martin Mercedes1:21.824+0.898s26
755Carlos SainzFerrari1:21.914+0.988s26
814Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:21.926+1.000s24
93Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:22.003+1.077s27
1011Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda1:22.039+1.113s23
1116Charles LeclercFerrari1:22.102+1.176s25
124Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:22.103+1.177s27
1399Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:22.270+1.344s26
1422Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda1:22.530+1.604s31
1531Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:22.534+1.608s27
1688Robert KubicaAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:23.009+2.083s28
1763George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:23.092+2.166s31
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:23.442+2.516s30
199Nikita MazepinHaas Ferrari1:23.445+2.519s23
2047Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:23.551+2.625s23