Mercedes have clinched the top spot of the time sheets in Monza for the first practice of the weekend.
The crucial session is the only practice teams had before having to qualify for the sprint race, which takes place on Saturday afternoon local time.
After Verstappen’s home win at Zandvoort it seemed his car was lacking pace at the Italian circuit as he went second fastest.
Second fastest and lacking pace may seem contradictory. But when you compare Hamilton’s time on mediums, that was almost half a second quicker, with that of Verstappen on softs the difference was clear.
Hamilton is now chasing Verstappen in the championship and is only 3 points behind.
This sprint race qualifying format, which was first tested earlier in the year at Silverstone, could give Hamilton pole position and make him equal on points (due to the 3 championship points for winning) before the GP on Sunday.
Then depending on that, the tightness of the championship fight will be fought for on Sunday as the cars will take to the track for the full feature race.
A total of 29 points are up for grabs when the trial sprint qualifying format is run. 3 for the sprint race win, 25 for the GP win, and 1 point for the fastest lap.
Whether it is Verstappen or Hamilton who takes home the most points, the championship lead could be extended or taken over very quickly at this round.
Here are how the drivers finished in FP1:
|7||Carlos Sainz Jr.||1’21.914|
Featured image source: twitter.com/mercedesAMGF1