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Hamilton tops FP1 at Monza

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in FP1 at Monza (Mercedes)

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in FP1 at Monza (Mercedes)

Lewis Hamilton picked up at Monza where he left off after last year’s Italian Grand Prix: right at the front. He’s driving for a different team – Mercedes instead of McLaren – but it’s clear that he has as much sped as ever. Not that he has it all his own way, of course. Fernando Alonso was second fastest, just 35 hundredths of a second slower than Hamilton.

Ferrari have seldom needed a win as much as they do this weekend. Fernando Alonso is 46 points behind Sebastian Vettel in the Constructors’ Championship and cannot afford to allow the gap to widen any further at this stage of the season. Fortunately for Alonso, Monza is a circuit that suits the Ferrari but highlights the weaknesses of the Red Bull. Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull, told the BBC commentary team during FP1 that he would be happy with a podium finish, suggesting that he expects his cars to lack the pace required to challenge for victory.

Based on the FP1 results – which are generally not very useful for predicting race or qualifying results – Mercedes and Ferrari are looking strong, with Red Bull and Lotus trailing slightly behind. Whether or not that trend will continue through FP2 and into Saturday’s sessions remains to be seen.

Monza is a low downforce track, which means those teams who have struggled earlier in the season as a result of their aerodynamic packages can hope for improved results this weekend. McLaren will be hoping to deliver a strong result, making use of their powerful Mercedes engines on the long straights. Jenson Button and Sergio Perez have yet to stand on the podium this season, but Monza provides perhaps their best opportunity yet to break into the top three on Sunday.

Williams will also be hoping for a points finish. They showed good top speed at the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago, but suffered in the twisty parts of the track. At Monza, there are no twisty parts to the track. It’s all long straights and chicanes, which should suit the Williams FW35.

Read my FP1 session report at F1Plus.com.

Results from FP1:

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.565 24
2 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:25.600 0.035 25
3 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:25.704 0.139 25
4 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:25.753 0.188 26
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:25.941 0.376 22
6 6 Sergio Perez Mclaren 1:26.007 0.442 24
7 5 Jenson Button Mclaren 1:26.035 0.470 23
8 2 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:26.103 0.538 27
9 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:26.149 0.584 21
10 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:26.155 0.590 25
11 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:26.194 0.629 25
12 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:26.295 0.730 23
13 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:26.387 0.822 21
14 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:26.449 0.884 16
15 14 Paul di Resta Force India 1:26.594 1.029 13
16 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:26.802 1.237 21
17 15 James Calado Force India 1:27.041 1.476 24
18 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:27.224 1.659 16
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham 1:27.818 2.253 24
20 23 Max Chilton Marussia 1:27.869 2.304 20
21 21 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1:28.192 2.627 21
22 22 Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia 1:29.526 3.961 26
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About Chris Cameron-Dow

I'm fanatical about racing. Driving, watching, following, analysing, everything.

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