Italian GP: Rosberg fastest as Mercedes dominate FP1

Nico Rosberg ended First Practice from Monza 0.2 ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, as Ferrari look strong and Red Bull struggle for pace. Force India once again ahead of Williams.

Italian GP: Rosberg fastest as Mercedes dominate FP1
As Mercedes dominated FP1, it was Nico Rosberg who edged out Lewis Hamilton to take bragging rights. (Image Credit: Sky Sports)

Kicking off the Italian Grand Prix weekend, Nico Rosberg started in the best possible manner, topping FP1 from the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, 0.203 clear of the best Lewis Hamilton could manage in a Mercedes dominated session.

Despite an early run on the SuperSoft tyres, which have a performance advantage of around 0.8 on the Soft tyre, the W07's were utterly dominant, with Rosberg's 1:22.959 being set on the yellow walled Soft tyre. Kimi Raikkonen was third, 1.088 down on Rosberg in his Ferrari. With both cars running an upgraded power unit, the other Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel finished in fourth.

Sergio Perez completed another strong showing from the Force India VJM09, ending up in fifth place, just ahead of Romain Grosjean in his Haas. Valtteri Bottas was seventh in his Wiliams - a surprise seeing as the Grove team often struggle on Friday morning.

Red Bull, hampered by straight line speed, or lack thereof, finished in P8 and P10 with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo respectively. The Milton Keynes team, in order to offset their lack of power were running considerable less downforce than their rivals, which led to Verstappen and Ricciardo both having big moments exiting the Ascari chicane throughout the opening 90 minutes of practice.

Esteban Gutierrez made it two Haas cars in the top 10, finishing P9, 0.3 down on his teammate.

​Halo and Prototypes

​Vettel was the first driver to venture out, closely followed by Raikkonen, but it was Rosberg who was the early pace setter, a 1:24.946 being his opening gambit. As in Spa last weekend, Pirelli were running a prototype Soft compound tyre, which they plan to introduce at some point later in the season to replace the current compound.

As Formula One heads toward cockpit head protection, there was once again Halo testing out on track, with Jenson Button in his McLaren, Perez and Verstappen, fresh from a chat with Race Director Charlie Whiting about his driving in Spa, those testing the device early on, which was removed after some install laps.

As Halo testing steps up, it was Jenson Button's turn to run it, doing so for a handful of install laps. (Image Credit: Sutton Images)
As Halo testing steps up, it was Jenson Button's turn to run it, doing so for a handful of install laps. (Image Credit: Sutton Images)

For a brief period Hamilton was atop the pile, going the best part of a second clear of Rosberg, although Rosberg's SuperSoft tyre run and time of 1:23.736 soon sorted that. One second back down the Monza track came the Tifosi's new hero, Vettel, who was on the soft tyre.

​Hamilton troubles

​Just before the fuel tanks were brimmed and the drivers sent out for long runs, Rosberg pumped in his 1:22.959. Seconds later, Hamilton's response was a 1:23.162, despite posting a faster S3 time, which includes the Ascari chicane and Parabolica. Sector 2 was were Hamilton was struggling the most, espicially at the second chicane, where he locked up and went across the run off area three times.

Late on, Raikkonen claimed Ferrari bragging rights, although the pace the Mercedes' showed brought things back down to earth was a thump.

Coming into the pits, Bottas was all locked up approaching the pit-lane entry. The high speed exit of the Parabolica and early entry line of the Monza pit make it one of the most troublesome of the year, although there was been no idication from the stewards that the incident will be investigated.

At the end of the session, Fernando Alonso slowed, radioing that he thought he had a gearbox problem. Being told he was able to shift through the gears, he limped home in the McLaren, towing along teammate Button with just a handful of minutes left on the clock.

Italian Grand Prix - First Practice times
Position Driver Team Time
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.959
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.203
3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +1.088
4. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +1.348
5. Sergio Perez Force India +1.691
6. Romain Grosjean Haas +1.804
7. Valtteri Bottas Williams +1.826
8. Max Verstappen Red Bull +2.023
9. Esteban Gutierrez Haas +2.154
10. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +2.161
11. Jenson Button McLaren +2.392

Alfonso Celis Jr *

FP1 driver, replacing Nico Hulkenberg for this session only

Force India +2.408
13. Fernando Alonso McLaren +2.548
14. Felipe Massa Williams +2.881
15. Marcus Ericsson Sauber +2.894
16. Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso +3.014
17. Danill Kvyat Toro Rosso +3.115
18. Esteban Ocon Manor +3.432
19. Felipe Nasr Sauber +3.480
20. Pascal Wehrlein Manor +3.803
21. Jolyon Palmer Renault +3.852
22. Kevin Magnussen Renault +3.997