Hamilton paces first Monza F1 practice for Mercedes

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Lewis Hamilton set the pace through the opening Formula 1 practice session for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Friday, heading up a one-two finish for Mercedes on Ferrari home soil.

Hamilton is looking to become the first driver to win back-to-back races in 2017 this weekend at Monza, having cut the gap to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the top of the drivers’ championship down to just seven points with victory at Spa last Sunday.

Hamilton started as he will mean to go on in FP1 by setting the pace in the Mercedes W08, posting a fastest lap time of 1:21.537 to finish four-tenths of a second clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas.

With the high-speed nature of Monza’s layout tipped to favor Mercedes, the German marque’s display was ominous as title rival Ferrari could not get within a second of Hamilton’s time, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finishing third and fourth respectively.

Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen wound up fifth and sixth overall, a further one-tenth of a second back from the Ferraris, while Force India’s warring duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon took seventh and eighth place.

Stoffel Vandoorne led McLaren’s charge through FP1 in ninth, while Felipe Massa rounded out the top 10 for Williams, two seconds off Hamilton’s time.

The session went by without major incident, with the threatening clouds over Monza only producing light spits of rain from time-to-time that were not heavy enough to limit running or warrant the use of the intermediate tire.

With heavier rain expected for FP2 later this afternoon, though, the majority of teams aimed to include some of their long-run program in their FP1 running.

Second practice for the Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 8am ET on Sunday.