FP1: Hamilton lays down a marker, 0.4s up on Max

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton from behind. Italy September 2021.

A look at Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes from behind as he corners with the Italian colours on the kerbs. Italy September 2021.

Lewis Hamilton laid down his marker in first practice for the Italian Grand Prix, setting the pace on the medium tyres ahead of Max Verstappen’s soft tyre time.

Surprisingly, Mercedes did not run the soft tyres at all even though it is the only compound the drivers are allowed to use in Friday evening’s qualifying.

With just an hour of practice before Friday evening’s qualifying, it took all of 90 seconds for the entire field, excluding George Russell, to leave the pits for a first lap of the day on a hot Monza circuit.

Robert Kubica, once again filling in for Kimi Raikkonen, posted the day’s first time, a 1:28.499. 10 minutes into the session and the P1 time was down to a 1:22.262, which belonged to Lewis Hamilton. Sergio Perez was second with Valtteri Bottas P3.

Yuki Tsunoda and Nikita Mazepin got feisty early on, the AlphaTauri driver crowded the Haas driver through the Lesmos, seemingly in response to Mazepin impeding him earlier in the lap.

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Returning to the pits after a first run, Hamilton remained P1 by 0.2s up on Perez with Max Verstappen third and a full second down on the Mercedes driver. Verstappen was running the hard Pirellis to Hamilton’s mediums. Sebastian Vettel, also on the mediums, was up to fourth place ahead of Bottas and 2020 Italian GP winner, Pierre Gasly.

There was a change at the front as Perez, purple in the middle and final sector, took P1 off Hamilton by 0.135s. The Red Bull driver was running a brand new set of medium tyres. Joining his team-mate on the mediums, Verstappen wasn’t able to match Perez, 0.444s off the pace. He reported that he had “same problem still”, adding that in sector two he had “no grip”.

With track limits in play, both Charles Leclerc and Mick Schumacher lost lap times for going wide at Turn 11. Schumacher’s next lap was also deleted.

Daniel Ricciardo jumped to the top of the timesheets with a 1:22.003 on the mediums, the McLaren driver looking a lot more comfortable in the MCL35M. His team-mate Lando Norris was six-tenths down before slashing that to a tenth, up into P3. The McLaren drivers were separated by Gasly.

With 15 minutes to go the Mercedes drivers re-joined the action, still on the medium tyres, Hamilton laying down a 1:20.926 to go P1 with Bottas third. The two were split by Verstappen, but the Dutchman’s time was on the soft Pirelli tyres. Norris jumped up to second and Ricciardo P5 only for both McLarens to lose their times for exceeding track limits.

The session ended with Hamilton P1 with a 1:20.926, set on the medium tyres, Verstappen second, 0.452s down on the soft tyres, and Bottas third.


1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.926 28 laps – medium
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.452s 22 laps – soft
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.525s 29 laps – medium
4 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 0.750s 23 laps – soft
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 0.793s 28 laps – soft
6 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 0.898s 26 laps – soft
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.988s 26 laps – soft
8 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1.000s 24 laps – medium
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.077s 27 laps – medium
10 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1.113s 23 laps – soft
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1.176s 25 laps – medium
12 Lando Norris McLaren 1.177s 27 laps – medium
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1.344s 26 laps – soft
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1.604s 31 laps – medium
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1.608s 27 laps – medium
16 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo Racing 2.083s 28 laps – soft
17 George Russell Williams 2.166s 31 laps – soft
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2.516s 30 laps – soft
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas 2.519s 23 laps – soft
20 Mick Schumacher Haas 2.625s 23 laps – soft