Friday 24 November 2017

In form Hamilton revs up for Italian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton today started off on a sound note in his bid to make the headlines for the right reasons this weekend.

Hamilton yesterday remarked on his frustration of being "an easy target" for the negativity he has attracted throughout what has so far been a season to forget.

The 26-year-old's latest accident in the Belgium Grand Prix 12 days ago, his sixth incident in races this year, stoked the fires of those all too willing to have a pop at the Briton.

In terms of trying to set the record straight, times in practice are never a true indicator as to how the remainder of a weekend will unfold.

But in terms of laying down a marker ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton did so in emphatic fashion on a rare day of warm sunshine for Formula One this summer.

Hamilton shot to the top of the timesheet just past the halfway point of the opening 90-minute session at Monza, and was never troubled.

After becoming the first to dip under the 85-second mark for the 5.793km track situated in a former royal park, Hamilton then went even quicker late on, nudging under 84secs.

With a lap of one minute 23.865secs, Hamilton finished 0.921secs ahead of team-mate Jenson Button, with the rest of the field left trailing.

Reigning champion and current title leader Sebastian Vettel was third quickest in his Red Bull, but finished 1.3secs adrift of Hamilton, followed by team-mate Mark Webber almost 1.6secs down.

Beyond that, in F1 terms, it was like night and day as the Force India of Adrian Sutil was fifth, but 2.685secs off the pace.

Behind the German was Vitaly Petrov in his Renault and Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, with Sauber's Sergio Perez and Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari completing the top 10.

With Scotland's Paul di Resta sitting out first practice, Force India reserve Nico Hulkenberg was 12th, nearly three seconds down, and just behind seven-times champion Michael Schumacher in his Mercedes.

Down the order, Lotus' Heikki Kovalainen and Jerome D'Ambrosio in his Virgin were both forced to park up late on due to technical issues.

The latter ultimately finished bottom of the standings, just over eight seconds down on Hamilton.

Press Association

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