Rosberg leads Hamilton in first Monza practice

Rosberg sauntered to his sixth victory of the season in Spa, but after Hamilton finished third despite being sent to the back of the grid for his engine penalty, was the German disappointed to take only 10 points out of his rival's title lead?

And if there is one place that Hamilton likes to press home his advantage over Rosberg and the rest then it is Monza, the historic track confirmed yesterday as the venue for the Italian Grand Prix for the next three seasons.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton of Britain waves on the podium after the Belgian F1 Grand Prix, in Francorchamps, Belgium Aug 28, 2016.

Ferrari's Raikkonen and Vettel managed 16 and 17 laps respectively as the team limited mileage on the new power unit it has introduced this weekend, spending the final three development tokens of its allocation in doing so, while carrying out checks. It's unusual how one weekend you are stronger than another as a team, but the vehicle feels good this weekend.

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"The penalties are done, the free weekend for the opponent has past and hopefully from now I can fight and it will be a race from here".

Ricciardo said: "Position-wise, we are more or less where we expected".

Ferrari looked closer compared to the morning session.

The Wiesbaden-born star reduced the gap to Hamilton in the World Championship to just nine points after victory in Belgium last time out, but the world champion won't have any engine penalties coming his way in Italy.

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Rosberg knows he can not allow Monza to be the track where Hamilton begins to turn the screw for the third season in a row.

It's always imperative for Ferrari to put in a good showing in front of the tifosi at Monza, so perhaps it was little surprise to see Sebastian Vettel and Raikkonen out early trying to set the pace.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso was seventh, while his team-mate Jenson Button, whose future in the sport remains shrouded in uncertainty, finished 10th, 1.7 seconds slower than Hamilton.

Last year, Hamilton led each practice, took pole position, and led the race from start to finish.

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In the morning, Verstappen, Jenson Button, and Sergio Perez tested out a protective halo device created to reduce the risk of head injuries, following the deaths of F1 driver Jules Bianchi and British IndyCar driver Justin Wilson a year ago.

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