• Italian Grand Prix - FP1

Hamilton heads Alonso in close FP1 at Monza

Chris Medland at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza September 6, 2013
Lewis Hamilton started the weekend with the fastest time of FP1 © Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of a close first practice session for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Mercedes - running a tweaked low-downforce aerodynamic package having been uncompetitive in race trim at Spa - delivered a strong showing with Hamilton quickest by 0.035s from Fernando Alonso, and Nico Rosberg just 0.1s further back in third place.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was fourth quickest on a 1:25.753 ahead of Kimi Raikkonen as the five race-winners in 2013 filled the top five places during the first session. Sergio Perez and Jenson Button were sixth and seventh respectively, but 45 minutes in to the session Button was under investigation for an 'unauthorised use of DRS', with the stewards yet to announce if any action will be taken for the apparent infringement.

The session oddly with Alonso waiting to perform a practice start just beyond the pit lane exit and Felipe Massa coming to join him as the pit lane light turned red. Massa locked up his brakes trying to stop before the end of the pit lane after the light changed and was forced to leave his car to be recovered from the pit exit and walk back to the Ferrari garage.

It was a tough session for Nico Hulkenberg as he suffered a gearbox issue which left him to coast back to the pits in third gear. Then, when Hulkenberg tried to return to the track his car stopped in the pit lane and his Sauber mechanics had to run down to push it back to the garage.

Pastor Maldonado was ninth quickest but endured a trip through the gravel at the Ascari chicane mid-way through the session having lost the rear under braking, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas then following suit a few seconds later.

Both Mercedes and Sauber spent time testing their versions of a drag reduction device (DRD) during the first part of the morning, with Rosberg running the DRD on his car before switching to a low-downforce wing while Gutierrez completed seven laps testing Sauber's device.

Three teams ran replacement drivers during FP1 with James Calado getting his first outing for Force India in his new role as third driver. Calado fared well, ending the session just 0.4s slower than team-mate Paul di Resta after 24 laps. Heikki Kovalainen was a similar margin behind Charles Pic at Caterham, while Rodolfo Gonzalez was comfortably slowest in the Marussia; 1.6s off than Max Chilton.

Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1

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Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1 Chris Medland, who in his youth even found the Pacific GPs entertaining, talked his way in to work at the British Grand Prix and was somehow retained for three years. He also worked on the BBC's F1 output prior to becoming assistant editor ahead of the 2011 season