Verstappen fastest in FP1, with Sainz and Perez close behind

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Photo credits: Red Bull Racing

Streets full of Tifosi and a chance for Max Verstappen to make history reaching his 10th consecutive win breaking Sebastian Vettel’s record, but the biggest news as Formula 1 landed in Italy came for Mercedes fans: both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton will be staying with the team until 2025.

No Daniel Ricciardo, who is still recovering from an unfortunate injury that forced him to have surgery just last Sunday, and no Lance Stroll for this first free practice session as it’s reigning F2 champion Felipe Drugovich stepping into his Aston Martin.

The Brazilian is among the very first drivers to go out on track as the clock strikes the start of the session.

Early problems for Alfa Romeo – who came to Monza with a special livery sporting the Italian flag colours on the rear wing – as both Zhou and Bottas’ single seaters stop before even exiting the pitlane.

After the first few timed laps it looks like a close battle between the Red Bulls and the Ferraris, as they switch quickly between the top positions.

Not quite a pleasant first run for Pierre Gasly and birthday boy Carlos Sainz who seem to be struggling with bouncing and bottoming.

Meanwhile at Alfa they figured out the problems that kept Zhou in the garage for almost half of FP1, as he was struggling with anti-stall, and he goes out for the first time this Friday.

First outing on track comes late for the Williams and the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas as well.

No issues for Fernando Alonso, as his Aston goes over some debris that dropped down from Lando Norris’ aero-rig-supplied McLaren. Things aren’t running quite as smoothly for Alfa with both drivers complaining about the rear of what appears to be an “undrivable” car, while Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon enter the top 10.

The William, however, ends up into the gravel exiting Ascari, but manages to return to the pits without complications.

At the top not much has changed as it’s still the same quartet occupying the first four positions: Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez and Sainz, but George Russell beats Alonso for P5.

Approaching the last minutes of running Bottas sprints on track to test out the fixes the mechanics worked on his car and this time everything appears in its place.

The Dutchman continues to lead the way and ultimately it is Carlos Sainz finishing behind him, with Perez and Leclerc behind.

A mostly smooth session that reserved the most chaotic bits all at the same place, as Ocon ends up off track in the same place Albon had done just a few minutes prior, just as the chequered flag waves the end of this FP1.