Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz gave Ferrari an early boost in their hope of enjoying a home victory in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Fastest by 0.077s in FP1 from his Scuderia team-mate, Leclerc may never get a better chance to repeat his 2019 victory at the ‘Temple of Speed’ due to penalties set to affect a host of main rivals.
Ten minutes before the opening track action began, the pit lane united in a minute’s silence in commemoration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on Thursday. Teams, drivers and the sport’s top officials had sent messages of condolence to the Royal Family following the announcement of the sad news.
As focus then switched to track running, eight drivers were facing the prospect of engine-related grid penalties with Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Sainz among those facing the heaviest sanctions, while Max Verstappen was reportedly looking at a five-place drop for a new ICE.
We also got the first look at Ferrari’s special yellow-tinged livery on honour of their 75th anniversary as being an independent constructor, three years before the inauguration of the Formula 1 World Championship.
Aston Martin had Nyck de Vries participating in his third rookie FP1 session of the season, all for different teams, this time standing in for Sebastian Vettel. He was out early for a couple of sighters but was last of the 20 drivers to try a ‘hot’ lap.
They included Antonio Giovinazzi, returning to F1 in the first of two guest appearances for Haas, standing in for Mick Schumacher for this initial hour of running.
Pierre Gasly was the first driver to partake in some slalom skiing between the bollards when going straight on at the end of the pits straight, smoke emanating from the AlphaTauri, and he was quickly called into the pits for investigation into an issue.
— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) September 9, 2022
In the opening 20 minutes, Verstappen, who has been totally dominant just before and since the summer break, was maintaining the form that has taken him 109 points clear at the top of the Drivers’ standings, over a second quicker than anyone else – until AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda squeezed inside that parameter on the soft tyres.
Approaching the halfway mark, Leclerc leapt to the top of the timings as most cars had the soft tyres fitted – including Verstappen, who was unhappy as his attempt to go faster was thwarted as he ended up in a ‘race’ with Lando Norris just ahead. “Unbelievable,” was the World Champion’s reaction.
George Russell, a serious contender for victory due to the impending grid penalties, jumped up to P2 despite not being fully happy – “the thing is just not stopping into Turn 1” – before being displaced by Sainz. The Briton was even more disgruntled when he almost ran into the back of Sainz, whom he said had “parked” his Ferrari at the second chicane.
De Vries was sitting 19th on the leaderboard when he took a trip across the gravel with five minutes remaining, possibly trying a touch too hard, as the Ferrari duo headed the Mercedes pair when the chequered flag fell, Russell and Hamilton both ahead of Verstappem.
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:22.410
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.077
3 George Russell Mercedes +0.279
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.421
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.430
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine +0.665
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine +0.689
8 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +0.850
9 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo + 0.984
10 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1.101
11 Alex Albon Williams +1.119
12 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1.160
13 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1.230
14 Sergio Perez Red Bull +1.251
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1.278
16 Lando Norris McLaren +1.446
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1.596
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Haas +1.907
19 Nyck de Vries Aston Martin +2.321
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams +2.531