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Lewis Hamilton went quickest in the first practice session for the Italian Grand Prix on Friday edging local favourite Fernando Alonso by just three-hundredths of a second.
The British driver set a time of 1 minute 25.565 seconds with teammate Nico Rosberg in third, a tenth slower, indicating Mercedes may have the advantage at the high-speed Monza circuit.
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was fourth in his Red Bull ahead of Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen, with the four title contenders separated by just 0.376 seconds.
Practice took place in warm and sunny conditions with temperatures hovering around the 28 degree Celsius mark. It was a largely uneventful session with several drivers missing their braking points finding themselves in the run-off areas of the track.
During one of his runs, Alonso had the rear-left wheel of his Ferrari in the gravel at the exit of the final corner at the Curva Parabolica, but the Spaniard managed to negotiate it without an incident.
McLaren’s recent resurgence, albeit a minor one, continued with Sergio Perez in sixth ahead of teammate Jenson Button.
Mark Webber, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado and Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne rounding up the top ten.
Nico Hulkenberg encountered gearbox issues in his Sauber late in the session and consequently completed the least number of laps (16). It happened when ten minutes remained in the session, which didn’t cost the German a significant loss of track time.
In contrast, Red Bull racked up the most mileage with Vettel completing 26 laps, one less than his teammate Webber.
There were three changes for the session with James Calado replacing Adrian Sutil at Force India, Heikki Kovalainen stepping in for Giedo van der Garde at Caterham and Rodolfo Gonzalez driving Jules Bianchi’s Marussia for the outing.