Valtteri Bottas led a Mercedes’ one-two in the first practice session at Monza over Lewis Hamilton as Max Verstappen crashed and lost his front wing – while his Red Bull team mate Alex Albon finished third.
Bottas’s fastest lap of 1m20.703s – helped by a tow from Hamilton – was 0.245s faster than his team mate’s best effort. Albon went third-fastest but 0.797s off Bottas’s top time, the top-three all setting their fastest laps on soft tyres.
Fourth was medium-shod Daniil Kvyat for AlphaTauri, 0.8s off the top and ahead of Verstappen by a tenth.
Verstappen’s crash at the Ascari Chicane came with over 50 minutes remaining. He spun going into the exit of the chicane, careered over the kerbs, through the gravel and hit the barriers nose-first, causing a brief red flag. The Dutchman then headed back out after swift repairs to his Red Bull to finish fifth on softs.
Pierre Gasly completed the top six for AlphaTauri, the last driver within a second of Bottas, on medium tyres. The Frenchman spun at the Turn 4/5 chicane at the end of the session, rolling backwards into the gravel as the chequered flag was waving.
Racing Point were disappointed not to compete at the same level as Renault in Belgium but here Sergio Perez managed P7, setting exactly the same time as McLaren’s Lando Norris in P8 – both on soft tyres. Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was a whisker behind them in P9 and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz rounded out the top 10, with under a tenth of a second covering Sainz to Perez.
Eleventh was last year’s winner Charles Leclerc, the Monegasque fitting mediums for his fastest lap to go ahead of Renault’s Esteban Ocon in 12th. Lance Stroll settled for 13th as he couldn’t get a clean run on soft tyres, so his fastest lap was set on hards for Racing Point.
Traffic at Monza hampered a number of drivers’ laps, but both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen managed to get soft-tyre flying runs in for P14 and P15. Magnussen’s session ended early as Haas investigated a cooling issue on his car.
FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO HEINEKEN D’ITALIA 2020
Practice 1 results
|1 Valtteri BOTTAS Mercedes||1:20.703|
|2 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes||+0.245s|
|3 Alexander ALBON Red Bull Racing||+0.797s|
|4 Daniil KVYAT AlphaTauri||+0.852s|
|5 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing||+0.938s|
It was another very difficult session for Sebastian Vettel in Ferrari’s home race. The three-time Italian Grand Prix winner could only split the Williams – and was slower than Williams’ FP1 stand-in Roy Nissany – to go P19 with a trip through the Turn 6 gravel showing just how much the four-time champion is struggling.
Nicholas Latifi in the second Williams was last in the standings. George Russell returns in place of Nissany for FP2, where Red Bull will hope to close the gap to Mercedes ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.