Leclerc leads Ferrari one-two in first Italian GP practice


 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.

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.

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