Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two in Italian GP FP1

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Lewis Hamilton made a strong start to his Italian Grand Prix weekend at Monza by topping the first free practice session on Friday morning.

Two weeks on from his win in Belgium, Hamilton showed few signs of relenting at the head of the field as he finished half a second clear of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in second place.

Mercedes’ decision to use its remaining development tokens ahead of this weekend’s race and upgrade its power unit immediately paid off as it romped to another one-two finish.

In his first session as a Ferrari driver at Monza, Sebastian Vettel finished as the best of the rest in P3, albeit almost six-tenths of second behind Hamilton and despite spinning late on.

The Mercedes-powered Force Indias ran well in FP1 as Nico Hulkenberg finished fourth ahead of teammate Sergio Perez. Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth for Ferrari ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who led Red Bull’s charge in P7. The Australian was followed by Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, whilst Pastor Maldonado rounded out the top ten.

Jolyon Palmer made the most of his final planned practice run-out of the 2015 season for Lotus, finishing 15th overall. He will hand the reins of the E23 Hybrid car back over to Romain Grosjean for FP2 later today.

Toro Rosso struggled throughout FP1 due to a number of minor issues on its cars that left both Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen struggling for pace. Sainz’s session came to an early end when he spun out at Parabolica, beaching his car in the gravel.

It was also another session to forget for McLaren as both of its cars ended the morning up on jacks in the team’s garage, requiring yet more changes to their power units that will inevitably result in more grid penalties for Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.

Second practice for the Italian Grand Prix begins at 8am ET on Friday, and is live on NBCSN and Live Extra.