It is no secret that the Mercedes W04 has handy raw pace, over one lap it’s probably the fastest piece of kit on this year’s grid, and both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg made the most of it in the first free practice of the Italian grand Prix weekend to take top spot and P3 on the timing sheets at the end of the 90 minute session at Monza.
It was also good news for Ferrari tifosi as early indications are that Fernando Alonso may be able to match the Silver Arrows as he finished the session down by a mere 0.035 seconds.
Hamilton recorded his first timed lap around the 45 minute mark and shortly thereafter blitzed it around the ‘temple of speed’ to pop up top of the timing screen just short of the hour mark. His time of 1:25.565 was enough and would remain the benchmark until the chequered flag waved to end the session.
Rosberg, third fastest, was 0.139 seconds down on his teammate.
Championship points leader Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest, with Red Bull team mate Mark Webber eighth.
Kimi Raikkonen was fifth fastest in the Lotus, while teammate Romain Grosjean got to terms with his first visit to Monza as a Lotus driver. Last year he had to sit out the Italian race after his shenanigans at the previous race, in Belgium. The Frenchman was 12th fastest.
Showing improved pace and clearly more suited to the fast nature of Monza were the McLaren pair with Sergio Perez and Jenson Button sixth and seventh respectively.
Pastor Maldonado survived a scary high speed trip through the gravel entering Variante Ascari , some deft and brave driving from the Venezuelan kept the Williams away from the barriers. He ended the session ninth, with rookie Valterri Bottas experiencing his first Monza weekend in an F1 car ,ending 16th.
With the high profile matter of filling Mark Webber’s Red Bull seat in 2014 done and dusted the Toro Rosso pair were able to focus on matters at hand. Jean Eric Vergne rounded out the top ten, with Daniel Ricciardo 13th.
Nearly a second down on his Ferrari teammate and 14th at the end of the session was Felipe Massa.
Monza is always a close run affair and this year only 1.029 seconds separate the top 15 on the timing sheets.
James Calado made his FP1 debut with Force India, finishing the session 17th and only 0.447 seconds second down on Paul di Resta who was 15th fastest.
Heikki Kovalainen was on duty in place of Giedo van der garde at Caterham, while Rodolfo Gonzalez had the use of Jules Bianchi’s cockpit for the morning session.
There was a parting shot which resembled something out of a Keystone Cops skit. With the session almost up Alonso ambled out the pits, stopped at the exit of the pitlane apparently to do a practice start just as Massa was going out for one last stint. The Brazilian was forced hard on to the brakes, smoking and all – the Ferrari pair ending up stationary, nose to tale as the session ended – now that could have been a major embarrassment! (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.
Italian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 6 September 2013
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:25.753||0.188||26|
|8||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.103||0.538||27|
|15||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.594||1.029||13|
|17||15||James Calado||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.041||1.476||24|