Hamilton dominates first practice at Monza

Italian GP

Italian GP

Hamilton, who won in Belgium last weekend, is looking to seal his fourth consecutive pole position at Monza.

His lap of one minute 35.554 seconds was more than 1.1 seconds quicker than anybody else at the fastest track on the calendar.

Lewis Hamilton set the trend by hooking up Instagram Live, then roping in his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas for some PlayStation action.

There is no lack of storylines entering this weekend's Italian Grand Prix in Monza, where the Ferrari fans - "tifosi" - may unleash a wave of pent-up enthusiasm after years of disappointment. "To do this here at such an historic circuit - I am going to have some pasta tonight to celebrate", said Hamilton.

The championship leader qualified down in eighth, behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, and will start Sunday's race in sixth as both Scuderia drivers floundered in the wet conditions at Monza.

Ferrari, in front of their home support, appeared off the pace this morning, but they ended the day within striking distance of the Mercedes cars, with Vettel, leading the chase, just 0.140 sec adrift of Bottas. Obviously today didn't go the way we wanted, but for tomorrow I think we can make up a lot of ground.

"We have a good auto so I don't think we need to be afraid", Vettel added.

"It will take them 20-30 years", he said.

Stoffel Vandoorne broke into the top ten for McLaren-Honda.

The session initially started on time, but as the rain worsened Haas's Romain Grosjean aquaplaned off on the main straight, bringing out the red flags just four minutes in.

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He was unhurt but accused F1 race organisers of double standards for starting the session in unsafe conditions.

The qualifying was hampered by rains at Monza.

Verstappen, Vettel, Bottas and then Hamilton took top spot as the times tumbled.

Raikkonen had a bit of a drama with a brake fire, and a near miss when his crew nearly released him into the path of one of the Force Indias as the latter swept into its space immediately in front of the Ferrari pit.

The british driver had gone ahead of Bottas by nearly a half second in the first session.

Hamilton added that he felt it was good that Vettel had committed to staying with Ferrari.

There were lots of positives although our day was a bit mixed, said Vettel, who holds a seven-point advantage over Hamilton.

Also, smoke poured out of the back of Carlos Sainz's Toro Rosso in an apparent engine failure.

But the persistent rain could lead to an unpredictable qualifying session later on Saturday. Hamilton, however, remains unconcerned by Wolff's comments or Vettel's new Ferrari deal as he believes a potential extension is just a formality, something he expects to happen either in the second-half of the season or by the end of the year.