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 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 AT01||1:21.667||+ 0.964||27|
|7.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP20||1:21.747||+ 1.044||25|
|8.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL35||1:21.747||+ 1.044||29|
|9.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team R.S.20||1:21.789||+ 1.086||22|
|10.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL35||1:21.821||+ 1.118||27|
|11.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF1000||1:21.904||+ 1.201||25|
|12.||Esteban Ocon||Renault F1 Team R.S.20||1:21.984||+ 1.281||28|
|13.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP20||1:22.131||+ 1.428||21|
|14.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-20||1:22.409||+ 1.706||20|
|15.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-20||1:22.422||+ 1.719||19|
|16.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C39||1:22.552||+ 1.849||24|
|17.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C39||1:22.619||+ 1.916||27|
|18.||Roy Nissany||Williams Racing FW43||1:22.826||+ 2.123||25|
|19.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF1000||1:22.988||+ 2.285||24|
|20.||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Racing FW43||1:23.120||+ 2.417||22|
Image via XPB
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