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Italian GP: Lewis Hamilton easily beats Max Verstappen in Practice One before Friday qualifying

Advantage very much Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes heading into qualifying as Hamilton beats Max Verstappen by 0.452s in Friday's only practice session; Qualifying for the F1 Sprint live on Sky Sports F1 at 5pm, build-up from 4.20pm

Lewis Hamilton laid down an ominous marker to Max Verstappen and Red Bull by dominating Friday's sole Italian GP practice before the 5pm qualifying, as Mercedes started F1's second 'Sprint' weekend in style.

The F1 Sprint format returns this weekend after a successful debut at Silverstone, with a mini 18-lap dash around Monza - the sport's fastest track - added to the schedule on Saturday, setting the grid for Sunday's race.

The revamped schedule also changes and puts far greater emphasis on Friday's running, with qualifying moved to Friday evening and only one practice session before drivers compete for grid positions for the Sprint.

And in that all-important Practice One, Hamilton kicked off his weekend perfectly by enjoying a comfortable 0.452s buffer over title rival Verstappen, backing up Red Bull's assertion that Mercedes are the pre-weekend favourites given the power-friendly layout.

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Take a look at this spectacular camera angle from George Russell's on-board helmet cam as he takes on Monza.

Hamilton, who despite trailing Verstappen by only three points in the standings has won just one of the last nine races, also completed his 1:20.926 lap on the supposedly slower medium tyre, compared to the Red Bull on the softs.

Valtteri Bottas, whose Mercedes exit for 2022 was confirmed earlier this week, was just behind Verstappen on the mediums.

Red Bull, through Sergio Perez, had set the pace in the early stages.

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"Quite pleased," said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. "Although we only saw one lap from Red Bull really turned up with the engine and that was Perez pretty early on in the session.

"I think they probably have three, three and a half tenths in the pocket with the power unit. But then we have a tyre difference."

Sky F1's Martin Brundle added on qualifying: "I'd expect it to be much closer."

Qualifying is live at 5pm on Sky Sports F1, with build-up live from 4.20pm.

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Here's what you can look forward to during coverage of this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

Elsewhere, Aston Martin bounced back well in the session following their point-less Dutch GP, with Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel in fourth and sixth, 0.7 and 0.8s off Hamilton respectively.

Last year's shock winner Pierre Gasly also fared well in fifth, while Carlos Sainz was the lead Ferrari in seventh as the Scuderia returned to their home turf in front of the passionate Tifosi fans.

Despite his speed at the start of the session, Perez, who is boosted by a new engine after taking a fresh Honda PU in Zandvoort, finished first practice down in 10th and over a second down on Hamilton.

Italian GP Practice One Timesheet

Driver Team Time
1) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.926
2) Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.452
3) Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +0.525
4) Lance Stroll Aston Martin +0.750
5) Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +0.793
6) Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +0.898
7) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.988
8) Fernando Alonso Alpine +1.000
9) Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1.077
10) Sergio Perez Red Bull +1.113
11) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +1.176
12) Lando Norris McLaren +1.177
13) Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo +1.344
14) Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1.604
15) Esteban Ocon Alpine +1.608
16) Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo +2.083
17) George Russell Williams +2.166
18) Nicholas Latifi Williams +2.516
19) Nikita Mazepin Haas +2.519
20) Mick Schumacher Haas +2.625

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