F1 drivers fall silent in memory of Queen before Charles Leclerc leads practice
Charles Leclerc finished ahead of Carlos Sainz as Ferrari led the way in opening practice for the Italian Grand Prix – after Formula One observed a one-minute silence in memory of Her Majesty The Queen.
Ten minutes before the first action of the weekend in Monza, the grid’s 10 teams – six of which are based in the United Kingdom – gathered in memory of the long-serving monarch who died on Thursday.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton wore a black armband on his Mercedes overalls as he was flanked by British team-mate George Russell and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali in the pit-lane.
FIA president Mohammed ben Suleyman paid his respects alongside Domenicali in front of the silent main grandstand awash with Ferrari red at the Italian team’s home race. A giant black and white image of the Queen was displayed on the podium.
A spontaneous round of applause broke out following the one-minute silence. Another moment of reflection is planned on the grid ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Earlier on Friday, Hamilton, who was knighted last year, described the Queen as a “symbol of hope for so many”, and said “she served her country with dignity, dedication and kindness”.
While the Premier League cancelled its fixtures this weekend, F1 bosses are pressing on with the 16th round of the season in Monza, 13 miles north of Milan.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team are running with a black armband on the roll hoop of both his and Russell’s cars, while staff from across the teams, F1, and its governing body, the FIA, are all wearing black armbands.
Leclerc, who is 109 points behind runaway championship leader Max Verstappen, headed the order, just 0.077 seconds clear of Sainz.
Russell finished third, 0.279 sec adrift, and one place ahead of Hamilton, who was four tenths back. Verstappen finished fifth.
Sainz, Hamilton and Verstappen are all facing grid penalties on Sunday for exceeding their allocation of engine parts.
Verstappen is set to drop five places for changing his Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), while Sainz and Hamilton are likely to line up towards the back. Hamilton is punished for taking on his fourth power unit of the campaign – one more than is allocated under the sport’s rules.
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Perez is also facing an engine penalty which could pave the way for a straight shootout between Leclerc and Russell – the only two drivers from the big three teams not to be affected by grid sanctions.
Elsewhere, the Alpine pair of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso finished sixth and seventh, with McLaren’s Lando Norris 16th. Second practice gets under way at 5pm local time (4pm UK).