That's the end of the session: thanks for joining us, and we'll be back at 1pm UK time with coverage of the second free practice session from Monza. See you then!
Free Practice 1
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Kimi Raikkonon almost goes airbone! Yikes! The Lotus driver clatters into the Variante della Roggia kerbs at high speed, coming completely off the ground. It seemed an intentional test to see how the car would handle it. Still, though: ouch.
As the clock ticks down, news come through that Alonso heard an ominous noise coming from his engine on the start-finish straight and decided to pull off as soon as possible.
Pastor Maldonado's engine has conked out on the entry to Curve di Lesmo, and the last moments of this session look like being procession rather than blood and thunder - the car's in a very bad place almost on the edge of the racing line.
Michael Schumacher is out to try and improve on his fastest lap, but he's straight onto the radio: "My rear tyres are almost completely shot" he tells the Mercedes pit crew.
Was it a gearbox implosion that did for Alonso there? Seems it can't have been an engine blowing since there was no oil - possibly he was just told to stop by pit crew alarmed by a warning light.
Alonso has a major problem! He is about to start another lap, but his car has stopped completely in the first chicane. No smoke pouring out of it, but he's straight out of the car and walking back to the pits, while a lifter is straight in to recover the car.
More people making a mess of the first chicane, Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher both hammering their way through the kerbs. Massa in particular looks like he really might have thumped a few components loose the way he crashed over the bumps.
Alonso struggling for grip too, and he slows down to weave some more heat into his tyres. He won't set a decent time this go round, but will have another crack shortly.
Hamilton comes round for another lap, but again it's all looking frustrating as he locks up going into the opening chicane. Not far behind him is Fernando Alonso, back out and looking keen to set a time here.
It's a good half hour since we saw any changes at the top of the timesheets this morning...
Hamilton starts another flying lap, but it's undone on turn 3, Della Roggia, as he yet again his brakes fail to haul his speed down quickly enough.
Webber's lap tails off, the Red Bull driver unable to improve his position; Vettel, meanwhile, looks like he's gone out but is pootling around like a man driving a basket of eggs around.
Mark Webber, currently down in 9th, gets started on his latest lap, and the Aussie makes a good start with a textbook negotiation of the Rettifilo.
Sergio Perez blunders through Ascari now just as Jenson Button did earlier. Still not a huge amount of grip out there.
Hamilton is in the pits sitting staring at his screens - he's not taking pictures, though, as he recently did for charity.
Fernando Alonso has been unable to improve his time, and now come into the pits for a bit more fiddling. Getting the downforce balance right so tricky here, there's so much to be gained by reducing it to let the car steam up the long straights as fast as possible.
Button is out and looking on a neat lap, right up until the point that he locks his brakes and drives clean through the middle of the Variante della Roggia.
Nico Rosberg is on a flying lap, but he looks right on the edge, a bit of four-wheel drift through the Ascari making him look cool - and no wonder he comes straight into the pits.
Hamilton completes that lapwhere he locked up, but he's several seconds slower than he has been. Still Schumacher at the top of the timesheets.
Lewis Hamilton locks up his rear brakes with an exciting puff of smoke from the back of the car on his out lap.
Daniel Ricciardo almost comes to grief at the end of the Parabolica as he goes wide and off the circuit, but he veers back on safely.
Rosberg is in constant chatter with the pits about trying to figure out his car's set-up - Monza is always a tricky one, given the 215mph+ speeds the cars hit, so much faster than most circuits.
Nico Rosberg is still struggling with getting the braking right at the opening chicane, copying Vettel's trick of ploughing straight down the middle and having to weave round those bollards.
Both Red Bulls do better on their second laps, roughly a second behind Schumacher with Webber sitting 7th and Vettel 8th before both head straight back into the pits.
Well, we're past the half-way point of this opening session and so far it has to be said that Michael Schumacher looks like the class of the field. Just when it seemed his career might be coming to a close (for a second time) he seems to be finally getting his teeth into the sport once more. That's the view of the reigning F1 champion, at least.
Vettel has the best lock-up so far on the first chicane, not even turning the wheel before he gets to the corner, and being forced to steer through the bollards. A reminder of the olden days before the chicane was added, and everything was in black and white.
Jenson Button is out and sets the second quickest time of the session so far, just under half a second slower than Schumacher however.
Vettel is actually following Webber round, a couple of hundred yards behind his team-mate - their opening laps are just feelers, no serious times posted yet.
Only four drivers yet to set times - and two of them are the Red Bulls, but Webber and Vettel both come out onto the circuit now.
Michael Schumacher looks good in his latest lap, and puts together a superb final sector to post a 1:25.422 - we're starting to get into business now.
Bianchi completely loses the plot going into the Variante Ascari chicane, and ends up driving clean through the middle. Wide run-off area there, so no danger.
It's a 1:26.072 from Fernando Alonso, the Ferrari driver being a bit messy on the opening sector but looking very smooth thereafter.
Hamilton remains quickest so far, followed by Schumacher, Massa and Rosberg - but Alonso is out and looking tidy.
Just over half the drivers have set a time now, with both Ferraris now out on the circuit.
Nico Rosberg is out but seems to be struggling for grip a bit and he's weaving back and forth to try to warm up his tyres.
Hamilton sets a lap of 1:26.980 despite skidding into that first corner - with the track getting cleaner all the time these lap times will keep on tumbling.
Kimi Raikkonen has set a fastest lap of 1:27.369, though it's still early days in the session at the moment.
Lewis Hamilton heads back out onto the circuit - and he's locked his brakes up badly at the first chicane. They're all at it, though Hamilton looks like the only driver who might have flat-spotted his tyre.
Grosjean's fill-in driver D'Ambrosio is out on track now and on course to get a few laps in. What a fantastic chance for the Belgian to show what he can do.
Yikes! Ma's F1 career begins ignominously as he, like Raikkonen a few minutes ago, ploughs straight through that opening chicane. The car bounces all over the place over those kerbs.
China's Ma Qung Hua is taking to the circuit at the moment as a test driver for HRT, the first chinese driver ever to drive on an F1 weekend.
Raikkonen's team-mate this weekend is Jerome d'Ambrosio, filling in for the banned Romain Grosjean.
Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen is out on the track - and straight away ends up ploughing over the chicane at the end of the first straight. Whoops! Cold breaks on a cool morning obviously not great for that corner...
The stands are packed with fans holding Ferrari flags, seemingly unbothered by the lack of on-track action. They're enjoying their croissants and flasks of hot chocolate too much.
Charles Pic has been out and become only the third driver to set a time. Though Miss Daisy herself could have got round faster: the Marussia driver pootled round almost 40 seconds slower than Massa.
Fernando Alonso is kicking back in the garage, in absolutely no hurry whatsoever to get out there on the track.
All the drivers are now back in the pits - not a single car out on the circuit right now. No doubt they're all on their laptops reading our
For reference purposes, Sebastian Vettel's pole time last season was a 1:22.275.
Lewis Hamilton has also set a lap time, a 1:31.028 - but in these early stages the drivers are more cleaning the track of leaves and dust than anything else.
Felipe Massa is out and looks like he'll set a first full lap time of the session - it's a 1:28.370 from the Brazilian.
It may only be early September but there's a hint of autumn about the track at Monza: the leaves on the trees are already starting to change colour and even fall, and the cars are lazily blowing those fallen leaves off the circuit as they steam round the parabolica at 180mph.
Pastor Maldonado locks up his brakes on the entry to the chicane at the end of the start-finish straight - big puffs of smoke appear.
Last week's winner Jenson Button comes out of the pits and onto the circuit.
The clock ticks over to 10am local time in Italy, and just a handful cars head out onto the circuit straight away, none of the championship contenders among them.
The other F1 driver who is in the news is a man who has not competed in the series since 1999: Alex Zanardi, the inspirational former Williams and Jordan driver who has become a Paralympic gold medallist this week.
The skies may be clear, but these are stormy times for Lewis Hamilton: all sorts of rumours have emerged over the past few days about where he will drive next year, but the latest from the man himself is that no decision has yet been made.
The weather at Monza this morning is absolutely stunning: clear, blue skies overhead and a bone dry track at this magnificent, high-speed circuit.
Morning everybody, and welcome to our LIVE coverage of the opening free practice session for the Italian Grand Prix.