Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari top-two sweep in first practice at the Italian Grand Prix as several drivers had grid penalties confirmed for taking new engine parts, including title leader Max Verstappen.
Leclerc’s fastest lap of 1m 22.410s was enough to edge Carlos Sainz by just 0.077s on their respective fresh soft-tire runs. For Sainz, however, the weekend program will fast change to long-run setup, with the Spaniard due to serve a penalty of at least 20 grid places for taking some new engine parts and a fresh gearbox.
Sainz also drew the ire of George Russell — who was third in the order and 0.279s off the pace — when he appeared to slow down through the Roggia chicane with the Briton closing at rapid speed from behind him, although they avoided contact.
Lewis Hamilton was fourth for Mercedes with a brand-new power unit to replace the motor damaged in his first-lap crash at the Belgian Grand Prix, which will send him to the back of the grid.
Verstappen followed in fifth at 0.43s off the pace. So far the Dutchman is due to serve the lightest penalty of any driver, at just five places, for changing only his internal combustion engine.
Alpine teammates Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso were closely matched in sixth and seventh, with the French constructor expected to be competitive around the high-speed track his weekend.
Yuki Tsunoda was eighth for AlphaTauri — he’s set to be demoted 10 places on the grid for collecting his fifth reprimand of the season in Zandvoort last weekend — ahead of the also-penalized Valtteri Bottas, whose Alfa Romeo will drop 15 places on the grid for taking a variety of new engine components after his motor failed in the closing stages of the Dutch Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo — winner of last year’s Italian Grand Prix — was the leading McLaren, taking 10th at 1.1s off the pace. He was fractionally ahead of Williams driver Alex Albon and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu.
Pierre Gasly — having sat out Thursday duties with illness but declared fit on Friday morning — was 13th ahead of Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull Racing car. The Mexican’s car had some new engine parts installed, penalizing him 10 places on the grid, but was also suffering from some rear wing oscillations.
Lance Stroll was 15th for Aston Martin ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, the Briton having done some aero evaluation work early in the hour that got him tangled in a brief battle with Verstappen through Parabolica.
Kevin Magnussen was 0.4s quicker than Ferrari reserve Antonio Giovinazzi, who took over Mick Schumacher’s car for the session.
Nyck de Vries was substituting for Sebastian Vettel as part of Aston Martin’s requirement to run a rookie driver once per car in a practice session. The Mercedes junior spent much of the hour working through an aero testing program before being given a performance run late, during which he locked his brakes at Ascari and scratched his way through the gravel.
Nicholas Latifi was slowest for William, 2.5s off the pace.
Practice started with teams observing a minute’s silence in pit lane in to honor Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday. Several teams individually marked the occasion, one of which was Mercedes, which ran a black band around the top of the airbox. A further mark of respect is expected ahead of the grand prix on Sunday.