Lewis Hamilton surprised his rivals with the best time in the first free practice for Mercedes and took Max Verstappen off the top who was first for almost the entire practice, and Charles Leclerc took third place for Ferrari.
Verstappen led with the convincing best time on medium tires (1:44.748), more than a second ahead of teammate Perez, and Alonso managed to separate the two Red Bulls with 1.1 seconds behind Verstappen.Vettel was also very quick in the Aston Martin, also on medium tyres, 0.018 seconds behind Alonso in fourth while Leclerc spent the first half hour in the garage due to car problems.
About twenty minutes before the end, the drivers took to the track on soft tires – first Verstappen’s time was beaten by Perez by four tenths (1:43.839), but Verstappen breaks that time less than a minute later by 0.722s with the fastest times in all three sectors (1: 43.117).
Stroll hit the wall with the rear left end and caused a red flag 19 minutes before time expired, and at that moment there were two Alpine drivers and two Aston Martin drivers behind the two Red Bulls.
Practice resumed 16 minutes before the time limit, with Sainz first to start the fast lap on the soft after having to abandon his fast lap before the break after a mistake at the exit of turn five.
But Sainz’s second attempt was not without error as he lost the rear end in the final corner and barely managed to avoid the wall leaving him just over a second behind Verstappen.
After the first sector, Leclerc is 0.25 seconds behind Verstappen, sets the absolute best time in the second sector and ends up 0.318 seconds behind the fastest time.
Five minutes before the end, Hamilton sets a new best time for Mercedes 1:43.033 with the best third sector, 0.084 seconds behind the fastest Verstappen.
Leclerc for Ferrari finished third, four tenths of a second behind Hamilton, and fourth-placed Perez in Red Bull was eight tenths behind and is the last driver to be less than a second behind Hamilton.
Russell was fifth for Mercedes, but with a second behind Hamilton, two tenths of which was only in turn 14, and Sainz was only sixth in the second Ferrari after a big mistake in the last corner.
Ocon was seventh for Alpine, the best driver of the team in the middle of the standings, and Stroll in Aston Martin finished eighth, although due to a crash he did not have time to set the time on the soft, so he had the best lap on the medium tires.
Gasly took ninth for the AlphaTauri ahead of Alonso in the Alpine who set his best time on the medium tires as did Vettel in the Aston Martin in 11th.
Ricciardo was the faster McLaren driver in 12th place with the old specification aerodynamic package ahead of Bottas in the Alfana medium, Magnussen in the Haas and Tsunoda in the AlphaTauri. Albon, on his return after Monza, finished 16th for Williams ahead of Zhou on medium, Schumacher, Norris and Latifi.