Valtteri Bottas led a Mercedes-AMG 1-2 in the opening practice session for the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix at Monza, which was interrupted by a crash for Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.

The Dutch driver’s rather unusual crash at the Ascari chicane came with a little over half of the 90-minute session to run.  Turning through the right-hand sweep that makes up the three-corner complex, Verstappen suddenly lost the rear end of his car.  This pitched him sideways over the sausage kerbs and across the gravel before he slid nose-first into the barriers, breaking his front wing.

The red flags were quickly thrown – perhaps a little too hastily, it turns out – and Verstappen was able to return to the pits under his own power.  After a quick inspection, a replacement front wing and a change of tyres, h emerged back on track and went on to post the fifth-fastest time overall.

Up at the top of the time sheets, the Mercedes’ locked out the top of the order as they have done for much of the season.  Aided by a slipstream from teammate Lewis Hamilton, Bottas posted a 1:20.703 to finish just under a quarter of a second clear of the Briton.

Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon finished the session third-fastest in the second Honda-powered RB16, albeit a full eight-tenths of a second off Bottas’ pace.

The greatest surprise was who occupied fourth-fastest on the timesheets: Daniil Kvyat in the AlphaTauri Honda.  The Russian, who has hitherto had an unimpressive 2020 campaign in comparison to teammate Pierre Gasly, put in his best performance of the season to-date to split the two Red Bull Racing Hondas.

Proving that Kvyat’s pace was no fluke, Gasly was sixth-fastest in the sister AT01 with his fastest lap coming on Medium tyres.  The Frenchman spun into the Roggia chicane gravel in the dying seconds of the session but was able to get out of the kitty litter under his own power.

Racing Point will be hoping for an improved showing after a disappointing Belgian Grand Prix last weekend.  Sergio Pérez led the Silverstone team’s charge by going seventh-fastest with an identical lap time to McLaren’s Lando Norris – both doing so on the soft compound tyres – while his teammate Lance Stroll was an unrepresentative 13th-fastest after being unable to get a traffic-free lap.

Completing the top ten was Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr in the second McLaren. Less than one-tenth of a second covered the Pérez-Norris-Ricciardo-Sainz quartet.

Ferrari’s ongoing slide from frontrunner to lower midfielder was again exemplified in this session.  Reigning Italian Grand Prix winner Charles Leclerc could manage no better than eleventh-fastest on medium-compound tyres.  Teammate Sebastian Vettel struggled for balance and braking stability – evidenced by a trip through the gravel at the first Lesmo – and once again found himself mired towards the bottom of the timesheets between the two Williams’ of test driver Roy Nissany and Nicholas Latifi.


FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO HEINEKEN D’ITALIA 2020 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 1
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG F1 Team W11 1:20.703 28
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG F1 Team W11 1:20.948 + 0.245 27
3. Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing RB16 1:21.500 + 0.797 30
4. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia AlfaTauri Logo 2020 Scuderia AlfaTauri AT01 1:21.555 + 0.852 31
5. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing RB16 1:21.641 + 0.938 22
6. Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlfaTauri Logo 2020 Scuderia AlfaTauri AT01 1:21.667 + 0.964 27
7. Sergio Pérez Racing Point Logo 2020 Racing Point F1 Team RP20 1:21.747 + 1.044 25
8. Lando Norris McLaren Logo 2020 McLaren F1 Team MCL35 Renault Logo 2020 1:21.747 + 1.044 29
9. Daniel Ricciardo Renault F1 Team R.S.20 Renault Logo 2020 1:21.789 + 1.086 22
10. Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren Logo 2020 McLaren F1 Team MCL35 Renault Logo 2020 1:21.821 + 1.118 27
11. Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari SF1000 Ferrari Logo 2020 1:21.904 + 1.201 25
12. Esteban Ocon Renault F1 Team R.S.20 Renault Logo 2020 1:21.984 + 1.281 28
13. Lance Stroll Racing Point Logo 2020 Racing Point F1 Team RP20 1:22.131 + 1.428 21
14. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Logo 2020 Haas F1 Team VF-20 Ferrari Logo 2020 1:22.409 + 1.706 20
15. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team Logo 2020 Haas F1 Team VF-20 Ferrari Logo 2020 1:22.422 + 1.719 19
16. Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Logo 2020 Alfa Romeo Racing C39 Ferrari Logo 2020 1:22.552 + 1.849 24
17. Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Logo 2020 Alfa Romeo Racing C39 Ferrari Logo 2020 1:22.619 + 1.916 27
18. Roy Nissany Williams Racing Logo 2020 Williams Racing FW43 1:22.826 + 2.123 25
19. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF1000 Ferrari Logo 2020 1:22.988 + 2.285 24
20. Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing Logo 2020 Williams Racing FW43 1:23.120 + 2.417 22

Image via XPB

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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.
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