Rosberg quickest in opening Italian GP practice at Monza

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Nico Rosberg made a flying start to the Italian Grand Prix weekend by topping the opening practice session at Monza on Friday morning.

After cutting the gap to Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ standings down to nine points with victory in Belgium last weekend, Rosberg is bidding to regain the championship lead at Monza.

The German made an impressive start on Friday, posting a fastest lap of 1:22.959 to finish two-tenths of a second clear of Hamilton at the top of the timesheets.

Hamilton had been the leading driver after completing a run on the super-soft tire, only for Rosberg to complete a light fuel run on softs to move ahead.

Armed with an updated power unit for Monza, Ferrari finished third and fourth in the session with Kimi Raikkonen beating teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Sergio Perez finished FP1 fifth for Force India ahead of Romain Grosjean, whose Haas car is also fitted with the power unit upgrades supplied by Ferrari. Teammate Esteban Gutierrez also reached the top 10, finishing ninth.

Valtteri Bottas was seventh-fastest for Williams ahead of Max Verstappen, while Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10 for Red Bull behind Gutierrez.

Alfonso Celis Jr. enjoyed a solid run-out for Force India as his development program continued, finishing 12th, while Kevin Magnussen returned to the wheel of his Renault following a hefty shunt at Spa last weekend.

FP1 also saw the ‘Halo’ enjoy further tests, this time fitted to Jenson Button’s McLaren and the Force India of Perez.

Second practice from Monza is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 8am ET on Friday.