Carlin’s Dan Ticktum was the fastest man in Free Practice for the second round in a row, getting his weekend off to the best possible start in Monza, beating ART Grand Prix’s Théo Pourchaire and Carlin’s Jehan Daruvala to first place.
The grid dusted off the cobwebs from the summer break and returned to track action in Italy, with Liam Lawson setting the benchmark at 1:34.363, some two seconds off last year’s Free Practice time of 1:32.169 from Yuki Tsunoda.
There had been several changes in the paddock since Silverstone, with Jake Hughes returning to HWA RACELAB following an injury to Jack Aitken, while David Beckmann had swapped Charouz Racing System for Campos Racing, with Enzo Fittipaldi stepping up from Formula 3 to take his place.
Ticktum edged closer to the two-minute mark with 30 minutes to go, topping the timesheets with a lap of 1:33.042, ahead of Pourchaire and Daruvala.
A Virtual Safety Car was needed with just 11 minutes on the clock as Roy Nissany pulled onto the grass with smoke coming from the back of his DAMS. Running resumed with five minutes left to improve, although most were more focused on gathering data than setting laptimes.
The top three remained unchanged, while Championship leader Oscar Piastri closed out the top five ahead of David Beckmann, the PREMA driver three tenths off the fastest lap.
Marino Sato survived a late wobble to take a P6 placing, with Christian Lundgaard in seventh and Bent Viscaal eighth. Richard Verschoor and Liam Lawson rounded out the top 10, with just six seconds separating them from Ticktum.
The Carlin driver will look to carry his Free Practice form into Qualifying when action resumes at 4.50pm local time.