Lewis Hamilton was the early pace-setter in Friday practice for the Italian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has set the pace in this morning’s opening practice session for the Italian Grand Prix. The defending racewinner posted a 1:25.565 lap-time around the three-mile circuit, edging out crowd favourite Fernando Alonso by a scant three-hundredths of a second.

Despite the excellent weather conditions which greeted the field when the pit lane opened at 11:00am local time, the session began very slowly, with only the McLaren and Marussia drivers posting times in the first thirty minutes

The frontrunners eventually emerged from their slumber, with championship leader Sebastian Vettel moving to the top of the timesheets, before being usurped by Alonso, and then Hamilton.

A late flying lap from Nico Rosberg would prove enough to bump his compatriot Vettel into fourth place, while Kimi Räikkönen was fifth-quickest in his Lotus E21, which sported a longer wheelbase configuration.

The McLaren pairing of Sergio Pérez and Jenson Button were sixth and seventh respectively, with the latter placed under investigation by the FIA Stewards for his DRS being used in a prohibited zone of the circuit, a factor that the team blamed on a malfunction to the device.

Entering his final Grand Prix on European soil, Mark Webber was eighth-fastest in the sister Red Bull Racing entry, while Pastor Maldonado and Jean-Éric Vergne completed the top ten for Williams and Toro Rosso respectively.

Romain Grosjean (12th) and Felipe Massa (14th) both finished outside the top ten positions, with the latter lucky to avoid hitting the back of teammate Alonso at the end of the session. The Spaniard was attempting a routine practice start after the chequered flag had been waved, and it was a split-second reaction from his Brazilian teammate which prevented an accident between the pair.

Despite proving quickest through the speed trap, both Force India runners were also outside the top-ten. Paul di Resta was fifteenth-quickest, two spots ahead of the team’s newly-promoted reserve driver, James Calado, who had his first ever Friday practice outing, clocking up 24 trouble-free laps in Adrian Sutil’s regular car.

Aside from Massa’s near-miss with Alonso, the session featured little in the way of drama, although Nico Hülkenberg had his running in the Sauber limited by gearbox problems.

2013 Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:25.565   24
2. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:25.600 + 0.035 25
3. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:25.704 + 0.139 25
4. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:25.753 + 0.188 26
5. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:25.941 + 0.376 22
6. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:26.007 + 0.442 24
7. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:26.035 + 0.470 23
8. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:26.103 + 0.538 27
9. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 1:26.149 + 0.584 22
10. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:26.155 + 0.590 25
11. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 1:26.194 + 0.629 25
12. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:26.295 + 0.730 23
13. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:26.387 + 0.822 21
14. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:26.449 + 0.884 16
15. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:26.594 + 1.029 13
16. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 1:26.802 + 1.237 21
17. James Calado GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:27.041 + 1.476 24
18. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 1:27.224 + 1.659 16
19. Charles Pic FRA Caterham Renault CT03 1:27.818 + 2.253 24
20. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:27.869 + 2.304 20
21. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT03 1:28.192 + 2.627 21
22. Rodolfo Gonzalez VEN Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:29.526 + 3.961 26

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.