Hamilton fastest in first Italian GP practice at Monza

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Lewis Hamilton has finished fastest in the first free practice session for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Friday morning.

The Mercedes driver posted a quickest lap time of 1:26.187 to finish over six-tenths clear of McLaren’s Jenson Button in second place, while Nico Rosberg could only come home two-tenths further back in third.

[ VIDEO: Watch full replay of FP2 ]

Hamilton heads into this weekend’s race at Monza in search of his first win since the British Grand Prix at the beginning of July. Over the past three races, Rosberg has managed to extend his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship to 29 points, and their intra-team relationship has soured following a run-in at the Belgian Grand Prix.

In the first practice session on Friday though, Hamilton was the man to come out on top, even if he did run wide on one occasion. He recovered well by giving the fans a quick wave from his cockpit.

Fernando Alonso gave the Ferrari fans in Italy something to smile about by finishing fourth, and with Kimi Raikkonen in seventh, the team may be in better stead at Monza than many expected. Kevin Magnussen backed up Button’s charge to P2 by finishing fifth, suggesting that McLaren could be set for one of its best results of the year at Monza. However, the team did have to fix a problem with the headrest on Button’s car when it came loose.

Red Bull enjoyed a less successful session, though. Sebastian Vettel finished fifth, but teammate Daniel Ricciardo had to settle for 16th place thanks to a problem on his RB10 car.

Sergio Perez finished eighth for Force India in a limited session after he handed the car over to reserve driver Daniel Juncadella for the first thirty minutes. The Spaniard finished down in 17th place.

Roberto Merhi got his first taste of a Formula 1 car during practice for Caterham, and finished two-tenths up on full-time driver Marcus Ericsson at the back of the field. Charles Pic could only finish 21st for Lotus in his first practice run of the season.

Be sure to join us for FP2 live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET today.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
James Gilbert/Getty Images
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.