sport

Hamilton makes flying start

Lewis Hamilton's attempts to bounce back from the disappointments and recriminations of Spa have started in successful fashion at Monza with the Mercedes driver setting a storming pace in Practice One.

With Mercedes' title-duelling drivers returning to the track two weeks on from their controversial clash on the second lap of the Belgian GP, which has been dissected and debated ever since, the Briton was immediately setting the pace around high-speed Monza on Friday morning.

Hamilton's fastest time of 1:26.187 set midway through the 90 minutes of dry running under brightening skies in the heart of the Royal Park proved a significant eight-tenths faster than his championship-leading team-mate Nico Rosberg could manage. In fact, for the first P1 session since Canada in June, Mercedes didn't record a timesheet one-two as Jenson Button surprisingly went second quickest for McLaren, six tenths back on his former team-mate.

Indeed, Kevin Magnussen's fifth place behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso underlined what a strong start to the meeting it had been for McLaren, which have not finished higher than fourth since the season-opener in Australia but do have access to the class-leading Mercedes engine expected to dominate this weekend.

With Renault still trailing in the power stakes, Red Bull are braced for another uphill struggle - despite Daniel Ricciardo winning impressively in Belgium - and their lead P1 runner Sebastian Vettel was sixth. Ricciardo's bid for the most unexpected of victory hat-tricks, however, has started unpromisingly after the Australian was restricted to just 12 laps thanks to a power unit-related fault.

Kimi Raikkonen, fresh from his podium near-miss in Belgium, was seventh in the second Ferrari ahead of Sergio Perez in the lead Force India, despite the Mexican missing the first 30 minutes of running while the team gave Daniel Juncadella a run-out in the car and then another half-hour while the floor was changed on his VJM07.

Juncadella, albeit briefly, was one of four Friday drivers to take part in the session, with Lotus's Charles Pic (21st) and Caterham's Roberto Merhi (22nd) making their first appearances for their respective teams.

For 23-year-old Formula Renault 3.5 title-challenger Merhi, Friday morning's running represented his first ever mileage in an F1 car and, like fellow F1 novice Andre Lotterer in Belgium, the Spaniard outpaced Caterham's regular race driver Marcus Ericsson. Merhi now hands the car back to the recalled Kamui Kobayashi for the remainder of the weekend, although is likely to be back in the CT05 over the remainder of the season.