Following an ominous run on the hard compound from Max Verstappen, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc set the benchmark in the opening practice for the Italian Grand Prix, leading his team mate Carlos Sainz. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports from the Monza paddock.
After struggling for pace on Pirelli’s hard compound, Leclerc set the benchmark of 1m 22.410s on the red-walled soft compound to beat his team mate Sainz by just under a tenth f a second. Mercedes driver George Russell and Lewis Hamilton ended up third and fourth fastest to demonstrate the improving pace of their constantly evolving car.
Max Verstappen was blindingly quick on the white-banded hard compound, and was on course to top the session, but he was caught behind Lando Norris in the final sector, meaning that he could not demonstrate the full potential of his RB18. The Dutchman will be handed a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix after taking a fresh internal combustion engine.
The reigning champion’s team mate Sergio Perez struggled for pace both on the hard and the soft compound, and finished the opening session down in P14.
Alpine was expected to go well around the high-speed circuit of Monza, and its drivers Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso did not fail to confirm those expectations. The Frenchman and the Spaniard ended up sixth and seventh fastest in Free Practice 1.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda took 8th, showing impressive speed on the soft compound. However, the Japanese looks set to have a difficult weekend after receiving five reprimands which will result in a ten-place grid drop on Sunday. His team mate Pierre Gasly, who took his maiden F1 victory at the Temple of Speed in 2020, took 13th.
McLaren appeared to be off the pace in the opening practice, but that was not unexpected given the strengths and weaknesses of McLaren’s 2022 car. Daniel Ricciardo, who won last year’s Italian Grand Prix, ended up tenth fastest with his team mate Lando Norris languishing down in P16.
There were changes at Haas Ferrari as well with Antonio Giovinazzi taking over Mick Schumacher’s car for the first practice. The Italian ended up in P18 with Kevin Magnussen finishing just a place ahead of the former F1 driver.
Nyck De Vries – subbing in for Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin –set a time good enough for 19th with the team’s Canadian race driver Lance Stroll taking 15th.
|5||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:22.840||+0.430s||27|
|6||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:23.075||+0.665s||28|
|7||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:23.099||+0.689s||26|
|8||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:23.260||+0.850s||26|
|9||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:23.394||+0.984s||27|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:23.511||+1.101s||26|
|11||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:23.529||+1.119s||24|
|12||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:23.570||+1.160s||28|
|13||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:23.640||+1.230s||27|
|14||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:23.661||+1.251s||21|
|15||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:23.688||+1.278s||28|
|16||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:23.856||+1.446s||27|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:24.006||+1.596s||24|
|18||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Haas Ferrari||1:24.317||+1.907s||25|
|19||34||Nyck De Vries||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:24.731||+2.321s||22|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:24.941||+2.531s||24|