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Formula One

FP1: Leclerc fastest at Monza in rain-hit first session

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A late lap on medium tyres sent Charles Leclerc to the top of the FP1 leaderboard for Ferrari in Italy on Friday, with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz second in a mostly-wet session fragmented by three red flags.

The field began on wet tyres as rain threatened but faded, giving teams ample running on intermediates, with which Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas – who ended the session ninth – was fastest with a time of 1m 30.596s.

But when the track dried significantly in the closing minutes, Leclerc capitalised and set the pace with a 1m 27.905s, ahead of the McLaren duo. Sainz set his time, three-tenths off Leclerc, on soft tyres, as did third-place Lando Norris.

Although Lewis Hamilton took slicks at the end of FP1, he spun his Mercedes at Turn 1 and couldn’t set a proper flying lap, finishing the session fourth-fastest ahead of Red Bull’s Alex Albon. The top five were split by 1.120s.

A muddled order, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in eighth, behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, was partly due to a number of spins and two drivers being eliminated due to tricky conditions. The low-downforce set-ups didn’t help matters.

The first was Kimi Raikkonen, who beached his Alfa Romeo in the Parabolica gravel – giving fans at the outside of the corner a closer look at their special livery for the race – as he spun getting on the power. His session was ended without a time set, but team mate Antonio Giovinazzi managed the 11th-fastest lap.

Next to be eliminated was the leader of FP1 in 2018, Sergio Perez, who crashed his Racing Point at the exit of Ascari, damaging both wings and, he feared, his gearbox in the process. Pierre Gasly also triggered a stoppage, spinning at the same corner – and nearly collecting Albon in the process – but he managed to rescue his Toro Rosso from being stuck on the sausage kerbs and ended the session in 10th.

Williams rounded out the order, 10 seconds off top spot as Robert Kubica finished 17th ahead of team mate George Russell.

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