This is how the Tifosi imagined it: Charles Leclerc secured the best time in the first free practice session for the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monza 2022 in the red and yellow Ferrari. Leclerc set a best time of 1:22.410 minutes, beating his team-mates Carlos Sainz and George Russell (Mercedes) by 0.077 and 0.279 seconds respectively.
Top favorite Max Verstappen (Red Bull) took the lead from the start. In the second half of training, however, he did not put in as much effort as others. In the end he secured fifth place, 0.430s behind Leclerc and just 0.009s behind Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) in P4.
However, Verstappen goes into the Italian Grand Prix with a load. “If you change an engine, you do it here and not in Suzuka or Texas, where overtaking is difficult,” says Red Bull Motorsport consultant Helmut Marko in an interview with “Sky”.
As of today, Verstappen will be moved back by five positions on Sunday. Incidentally, not the only grid penalty for Monza. Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez (14./+10) also slides backwards. During his ride in Zandvoort, “unfortunately, the curbs destroyed the engine case,” reports Marko.
Red Bull sees reason for ‘optimism’
Carlos Sainz (at least +25/Ferrari) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) will probably have to start from the back because of a power unit and/or gearbox change. In addition, Valtteri Bottas (+15 / Alfa Romeo) received a power unit penalty. And Yuki Tsunoda (+10/AlphaTauri) one because of his fifth warning.
Red Bull still sees “a certain reason for optimism” in Monza, says Marko and explains: “With the form that Max is in, in the form in which we have always gotten the car to the optimum so far, and Purely from the route, I would say emotionally that the Red Bull suits it better.”
No Germans in FP1
From a German point of view there is nothing to report from the first free practice session. Both Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher had no training.
Vettel was replaced by Nyck de Vries (19th) at Aston Martin, while Antonio Giovinazzi (18th) was the Friday driver at Haas.
Monza 2022 is the first training session without a German pilot since the Hungaroring in 1991.