Perez tops washed-out FP1 session at Monza

© XPB 

Sergio Perez put Force India at the top of the timesheet for the first time this season, leading the field in a rain-impacted FP1 session that offered no opportunity for slick-tyre running.

The Mexican clocked in with a flat 1m34.000s lap that edged Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen by 0.550s and team mate Esteban Ocon by 0.593s.

Italian Grand Prix - Free Practice 1

1Sergio PérezForce India1:34.000s18
2Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:34.550s+ 0.550s28
3Esteban OconForce India1:34.593s+ 0.593s17
4Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1:35.024s+ 1.024s17
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1:35.207s+ 1.207s13
6Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1:35.438s+ 1.438s19
7Max VerstappenRed Bull1:35.665s+ 1.665s10
8Carlos SainzRenault1:35.995s+ 1.995s15
9Nico HülkenbergRenault1:36.107s+ 2.107s15
10Valtteri BottasMercedes1:36.238s+ 2.238s8
11Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:36.546s+ 2.546s6
12Charles LeclercSauber1:36.648s+ 2.648s10
13Kevin MagnussenHaas1:37.066s+ 3.066s13
14Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1:37.426s+ 3.426s14
15Romain GrosjeanHaas1:37.683s+ 3.683s13
16Marcus EricssonSauber1:37.790s+ 3.790s11
17Sebastian VettelFerrari1:37.867s+ 3.867s4
18Sergey SirotkinWilliams1:37.929s+ 3.929s10
19Lance StrollWilliams1:38.253s+ 4.253s8
20Lando NorrisMcLaren1:38.282s+ 4.282s9

Teams and drivers were greeted by thunder and pummeling rain early Friday morning, with the elements finally easing at the start of FP1.

Cool temperatures coupled with a wet track and low-grip conditions was a blend that didn't encourage much running from the outset, although it didn't temper the enthusiasm of the tifosi, with Monza's main grandstand looking nicely packed.

As the first few runners tested the waters, the rain picked up again, just as Daniel Ricciardo almost ground to a halt, the victim of an apparent power issue. As a reminder, the Red Bull driver is running Renault's new C-spec engine. Not the best of starts therefore for the manufacturer's latest upgrade.

A succession of installation laps on wet tyres continued to dominate the early part of the session, with Nico Hulkenberg eventually risking a run on Pirelli's intermediate rubber.

Thirty minutes into FP1, Max Verstappen had a moment at the Parabolica, the Dutchman harmlessly and skillfully 'drifting' his way out of the high speed corner.

Renault's Carlos Sainz put himself at the top of the timesheet with a 1m37.424s, but Lewis Hamilton demoted the Spaniard with an effort worth almost a second faster. His Mercedes team mate followed suit and promptly made it a Silver Arrows 1-2, edging the Brit with a lap in 1m36.238s.

As the water dissipated, drivers progressively switched to the intermediate compound as the de facto tyre. Running remained limited however, with many possibly protecting their tyres.

Verstappen took advantage of the slightly better conditions to line up a 1m35.665s lap that put him ahead of the field, while Sainz and Hulkenberg slotted themselves behind the Red Bull driver.

Meanwhile, in the Ferrari camp, Sebastian Vettel's SF71-H remained confined to the Scuderia's garage, some extensive gearbox work appearing to be going on.

With on one expecting the track to dry enough to warrant some slick-tyre running, most teams called a premature end to the day's first practice session.

Toro Rosso pressed on however, allowing Brendon Hartley to sneak in the fastest lap of the morning, the Kiwi quickly followed by Ricciardo, team mate Pierre Gasly and Verstappen.

However, inside the final five minutes of the session, Sergio Perez settled everyone's case with a last ditch effort that just beat Raikkonen and his Force India team mate Ocon.

Forecasts for this afternoon are calling for the skies to remain overcast with possible chances of rain.

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