Italian Grand Prix: Hamilton takes top spot in first free practice in Monza
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News September 1, 2017 Updated: 7:03 PM
MONZA, Italy —Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton got things started by topping the timesheet in the first free practice of the Italian Grand Prix. Hamilton steps into Ferrari country as thousands of Ferrari fans, known as "Tifois,” are expected to attend this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.
"It’s been a good day, a clean day. We got the running done, we got through our programme with no problems. The car seems nicely balanced here. We just have some work to do to eke out a little bit more performance. It looks quite close between us and the Ferraris, so I anticipate it’s going to be similar to the last race in that sense," said Hamilton.
Valtteri Bottas finished second and was 0.435s from Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel took third as Ferrari hopes to bring home a victory this weekend on their home turf.
Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo in fifth and teammate Max Verstappen in sixth. Red Bull will have to have a good day in qualifying to minimise the blow of the multiple grid penalties for the power unit changes before this weekend's race.
“We were pretty competitive in those conditions today. We’ll make some minor adjustments tonight but generally the car feels quite good here. If it’s wet tomorrow we’ll probably try everything and see if we have a chance for a pole position. If it’s dry we’ll have to assess further, because even if I’m pole position I’ll probably start at the back," said Ricciardo.
Sergio Perez finished seventh with teammate Esteban Ocon in eighth. McLare-Honda's Stoffel Vandoorne ended the day in 9th. Williams' driver Felipe Massa, who is hoping to deliver a good result after his strong performance last week in Belgium, finished 10th.
Carlos Sainz finished 11th for Toro Rosso ahead of Haas' Kevin Magnussen in 12th. Williams Lance Stroll ended the morning session in 13th. Daniil Kvyat was 0.021s behind Stroll in 14th for Toro Rosso.
Fernando Alonso finished 15th for McLaren-Honda. Alonso tried an upgraded power unit but will be reverting back to his older engine for the afternoon session.
“We brought an updated PU to Italy this weekend, which Fernando ran in FP1. Although we will receive a penalty for the race on Sunday, it was important for us to introduce this new update as soon as possible, and to test its performance on track," said Honda Excutive Chief Engineer Yusuke Hasegawa.
Haas' Romain Grosjean finished 16th with Nico Hulkenberg in 17th followed by his teammate Jolyon Palmer in 18th for Renault. Pascal Wehrlein, who continues to be the top scorer for Sauber, finished 19th with teammate Marcus Ericsson in 20th.
Ferrari, Haas, and Sauber reserve/test driver Antonio Giovinazzi was set to take part in the morning session for Haas, but the team postponed Giovinazzi's run with the team saying he will get another opportunity during the second half of the season.