Force India’s Sergio Perez tops first free practice in Monza
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News August 31, 2018 Updated: 1:19 PM PT
MONZA, Italy -- In their second race since starting the second half of the season under new ownership, Sergio Ocon finished on top of the timesheet for the newly re-named Racing Point Force India in the opening practice for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
Torrential rain fell in the morning, but conditions soon improved during the session.
Perez finished with a time of 1:34.000. This put 0.550s between Perez and second placed Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen’s Ferrari teammate, Sebastian Vettel, only managed four laps in the opening practice as the team checked his car for a suspected gearbox issue.
“It was a good day and I am fairly confident about our performance level,” said Perez. “Friday times don’t mean much but it’s still nice to finish the morning session as the fastest driver. In the afternoon we worked on our race set-up and we found a very good baseline. I am definitely looking forward to qualifying because we have a good chance to be the best of the rest no matter what the weather does. We were able to run on all compounds and in all conditions, so we are well prepared.”
Ferrari comes into the weekend hoping to take their first victory at home since 2010, and they hope to do it in front of the thousands of Ferrari fans better known as “Tifosi.”
Esteban Ocon finished up the top three in the second Force India. Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley finished fourth followed by Daniel Ricciardo who ran Red Bull’s new C-spec in fifth. Hartley’s teammate Pierre Gasly finished 0.231s in sixth ahead of future teammate Max Verstappen in seventh.
Renault drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz finished eighth and ninth while the Mercedes pair of Valtteri Bottas and teammate Lewis Hamilton finished tenth and 11th although they both led earlier in the session.
Sauber’s Charles Leclerc finished 12th followed by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso split the the two Haas cars in 14th with Romain Grosjean in 15th.
Marcus Ericsson finished 16th in the second Sauber followed by Vettel in 17th, and Williams drivers Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll ended the day in 18th and 19th.
McLaren Junior driver, Lando Norris, finished 20th as the 18 year old participated in his second free practice session for the team.