THIS WAS SILVERSTONE 2014...: but will Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton be looking so happy at the end of this weekend's Italian F1 GP at Monza? Image: AFP
MONZA, Italy - Lewis Hamilton wasted no time in asserting himself in Italy on Friday by lapping more than half-second quicker than anybody else at the fastest track on the calendar.
The Briton, who retired in Belgium 12 days ago after team mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg hit the back of his car and sliced a tyre, ended the session with a best time of 1min26.187.
Sebastian Vettel took pole at Monza in 2013 with a 1min23.755 so the drivers still have a way to go.
29 POINTS TO MAKE UP
Jenson Button, team mate at McLaren, was second-fastest on a dry track on 1min26.810. Hamlton’s current team mate Nico Rosberg - never on the Monza podium - pushed back with 1min26.995.
Hamilton is 29 points behind Rosberg in the championship with seven races remaining and is determined to claw his way back against his German rival, who was punished by the team for the collision.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was fourth-fastest and Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen reinforced Button's strong showing with fifth-best for McLaren, which last won a race in 2012.
Red Bull's flur-times F1 champion Sebastian Vettel, winner here at the 'cathedral' of Italian motorsport in2013, was only sixth-fastest and Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo was back in 16th. Ricciardo, as good as Italian to many of the home fans and chasing his third win in a row, was sidelined for some of the session with a power-unit problem.
The Williams pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were 12th and 13th but are likely to look more competitive in the afternoon.
NEW BOY FASTER
At the slow end of the field, Spanish driver Roberto Merhi made his debut appearance at an F1 weekend with Caterham yet lapped faster than regular driver Marcus Ericsson. Merhi will hand the car back to Kamui Kobayashi, returning after being dropped by the team for Spa, for the rest of the weekend.
Spanish reserve driver Daniel Juncadella had a stint with Force India while Frenchman Charles Pic was handed compatriot Romain Grosjean's Lotus for the session.Times from first press practice ahead of the 2014 Italian F1 GP at Monza
Times from first practice ahead of the 2014 Italian F1 GP at Monza
1 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min26.187
2 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min26.810
3 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min26.995
4 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min27.169
5 Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) McLaren 1min27.228
6 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull - Renault 1min27.271
7 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1min27.493
8 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India - Mercedes 1min27.687
9 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min27.741
10 Nico Helkenberg (Germany) Force India - Mercedes 1min28.112
11 Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber - Ferrari 1min28.114
12 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 1min28.148
13 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 1min28.150
14 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min28.300
15 Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Sauber - Ferrari 1min28.429
16 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull - Renault 1min28.487
17 Daniel Juncadella (Spain) Force India - Mercedes 1min29.192
18 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus - Renault 1min29.512
19 Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia - Ferrari 1min30.017
20 Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia - Ferrari 1min30.081
21 Charles Pic (France) Lotus - Renault 1min30.125
22 Roberto Merhi (Spain) Caterham - Renault 1min30.704
23 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Caterham - Renault 1min30.948
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Italian F1 GP weekend.