As the Formula 1 circus pitches its tents in the historic Italian heartlands of Imola for the second year running, it was Valtteri Bottas who posted the fastest time ahead of – in Free Practice One at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.
Bottas set a lap-time of a 1:16.564 which propelled him to the top of the timesheets ahead of his seven-time champion team-mate who’s fastest time was four hundredths off. Max Verstappen completed the top three with a 1:16.622.
It was mixed fortunes for Red Bull Racing though after Verstappen’s new team-mate Sergio Perez collided with the Alpine F1 Team car of Esteban Ocon at turn five, bringing out the red flag as both cars lay stricken across the track. As a result of broadcasting issues on the world feed, fans, teams and commentators alike were left in the dark as to what exactly had ensued but the stewards revealed the incident would be investigated after the session.
A number of drivers struggled with gravel-themed excursions and spins throughout the session, largely due to the low track temperature which made it difficult to heat up tyres. Weather forecast for the weekend looks to bring more of the same in terms of temperature, however there is a chance of rain for the race on Sunday…
Mercedes were trialling some slight alterations to their downforce philosophy this weekend as they- along with client team Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team– ran slimmer rear wings with the aim of creating the perfect balance between speed and cornering ability. At the end of the hour-long running, the Silver Arrows led the field away, hinting at a possible gain in performance.
At home in Italy, the two Scuderia Ferrari cars of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished well- both in the top ten. The Monegasque was the quicker of the two in fourth, with Sainz trailing by just over a tenth in sixth.
Pierre Gasly split the prancing horses in fifth, whilst team-mate and rookie Yuki Tsunoda took a trip through the gravel after a mistake sent him off-track at turn one around ten minutes into the session. The Japanese driver was able to continue, albeit going on to finish last.
The top ten was completed by Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi and Daniel Ricciardo.
Nikita Mazepin perpetuated his quickly-obtained reputation of spinning rather frequently by pirouetting his VF-21 just five minutes into the session. And, low and behold, right at the very end of the session he binned it at the exact same location and hit the wall- bringing out another red flag. He and fellow Uralkali Haas F1 Team team-mate Mick Schumacher managed to finish eighteenth and nineteenth respectively.
The second practice session of the day will commence at 13:30 BST and will hopefully yield all the more excitement of seeing modern-day Formula 1 cars around such a legendary track. Every ounce of running will go towards maximising Saturday’s Qualifying in order to start high up the grid for the race on Sunday. In his first year as a true title contender, Max Verstappen will be hoping to out-fox the cunning Lewis Hamilton and emerge on pole position.
Free Practice 1 Timings
|1||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:16.564||23|
|2||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:16.605||+0.041s||25|
|3||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:16.622||+0.058s||21|
|4||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||1:16.796||+0.232s||13|
|5||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:16.888||+0.324s||21|
|6||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||1:16.888||+0.324s||26|
|7||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Alpine F1 Team||1:17.457||+0.893s||23|
|8||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1:17.489||+0.925s||19|
|9||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1:17.739||+1.175s||24|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1:17.769||+1.205s||23|
|11||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||1:17.866||+1.302s||25|
|12||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen||1:17.883||+1.319s||16|
|13||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1:17.935||+1.371s||16|
|14||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1:17.984||+1.420s||23|
|15||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen||1:18.058||+1.494s||24|
|16||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:18.228||+1.664s||15|
|17||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Alpine F1 Team||1:18.360||+1.796s||20|
|18||9||Nikita Mazepin||RUS||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1:18.823||+2.259s||22|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||GER||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1:19.480||+2.916s||18|
|20||22||Yuki Tsunoda||JAP||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:19.781||+3.217s||11|