Formula 1

2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: What The Drivers Have Been Saying After Friday Practice

6 Mins read
Credit: LAT Images

Formula 1 returned to the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit on Friday for the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc ended both Free Practice sessions top of the timesheets, while there were issues for Oracle Red Bull Racing drivers, Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez that left both themselves and their team scratching their heads at where they can improve ahead of an all important qualifying session on Saturday.

Following on from a busy day in the F1 paddock, drivers from McLaren F1 Team, MercedesAMG Petronas F1 Team, Haas F1 Team and Williams Racing offered their thoughts after an action packed few hours.

Oscar Piastri – McLaren F1 Team – FP1: 9th, FP2: 2nd

It was a good Friday for Oscar Piastri, as he got his hands on the whole set of McLaren upgrades that Lando Norris was running in Miami. Piastri will be hoping they have a similar effect this weekend after Norris picked up his first Formula 1 win in Florida. The Australian finished ninth in the first session, before lifting himself up to second behind just Charles Leclerc in the second hour of practice.

“Friday done. I think it’s been one of our better Fridays and we seem to be in a pretty good place. It’s very tight out there so we’ll see what we can find for tomorrow, but it’s been an encouraging day. I’ve felt pretty comfy from the first lap this morning, so I’m excited for tomorrow.

“The team have done a good job with getting the remaining upgrades on my car, so thank you to them.”

Lando Norris – McLaren F1 Team – FP1: 8th, FP2: 12th

It was a disrupted day for Norris in the other McLaren car. The first practice session saw him finish in eighth, and in the second he ended the hour down in twelfth. It wasn’t an accurate reading though as the 24-year-old was the only driver not to do a simulation run on the soft tyres, which probably would’ve put him in a similar position to his teammate. Norris’ hopes will still be high, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez struggling for any form of pace so far this weekend.

“It’s been a reasonable day, if a little bit disrupted in places. We had a test programme with some things to try after our upgrades in Miami, which was important to fit in. But at the same time, we had to deal with a couple of little issues here and there which made completing our plan a little bit more tricky than we were hoping for.

However, the car felt good, I think we made some good improvements through the day and I was happy with that. Another few into tomorrow and I think we can have a good day.”

George Russell – Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team – FP1: 2nd, FP2: 5th

Mercedes haven’t enjoyed an easy start to the season, but Friday practice in Imola left George Russell feeling more positive than he has been throughout the 2024 season so far. The Brit finished the first session in second, and the second hour in fifth just behind his teammate.

“The car was feeling great today and both Lewis and I were happy behind-the-wheel. We looked reasonably competitive and slightly closer to the front of the field than we looked in Miami.

“Come Qualifying tomorrow we will find out exactly where we stand in the pecking order. McLaren looked very strong along with Ferrari but hopefully we can find a bit more speed and get closer to them. As always, it will be fine margins. 
“The team has done a great job to bring the updates to the car so quickly. It definitely feels like a step forward at this point. It’s great to see the motivation within the team despite having a few tough races recently.” 

Lewis HamiltonMercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team – FP1: 7th, FP2: 4th

Similarly to his teammate, Lewis Hamilton has struggled this season to get to grips with the W15, but after two good sessions, the seven time world champion is feeling more positive about the team’s chances this weekend. It was also Hamilton’s first time racing in Italy since he signed the deal to race with Scuderia Ferrari in 2025, and the 39 year-old received a good reception from the fans at the track.

“It’s been a good start to the weekend. We had a productive day and were able to run all three compounds. The balance of the car felt good, and I had a positive feeling out there. Several other teams look quick, in particular McLaren and Ferrari, but we’re a lot closer than we have been so far this season. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves though so let’s see how tomorrow goes.”
“I am really grateful to everyone back at the factory for working so hard to bring these updates. We are seeing improvements in the car and our performance on track.”

Ollie Bearman – Haas F1 Team – FP1: 15th

Ollie Bearman was delighted to get behind the wheel of the Haas F1 Team car for the first time in Free Practice One. The young Brit returned to the Formula 1 paddock for the first time since his point scoring debut for Scuderia Ferrari in Jeddah, where he was drafted in last minute for Carlos Sainz Jr.

“I’m really happy with my performance in FP1. The session was a bit shorter because of the red flag but I’m quite happy with how I got up to speed with the car. Driving FP1 in F2 as well really helped me to make that step pretty quickly.

“I think all the work we’re doing behind the scenes is paying off because already from the early laps I was feeling really comfortable in the car and at home. The long run also went well, and the car feels like a good step compared to last year. I’m proud of the guys, they’re having a great season so far and I can’t wait to jump in again.”

Credit: LAT Images

Nico Hülkenberg – Haas F1 Team – FP1: 20th, FP2: 9th

Nico Hülkenberg enjoyed a positive Friday at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, ending the second practice of the day inside the top ten. The German spent the first hour of practice on a different programme to everyone else, but showed great one lap pace in the second hour in afternoon practice.

“This morning we did a bit of rake running to gather aero data to compare the launch car to the current car. In FP2, we went back to the normal program and it all felt okay.

It was very windy out there today, so cars were quite difficult to drive because it’s inconsistent in terms of grip, hence making it easy to run off the track a bit. It’s an intense track, pretty fast but also has a great feel to it as well, I’m enjoying it.”

Kevin Magnussen – Haas F1 Team – FP2: 17th

Kevin Magnussen has seen lots of media attention surrounding him so far this weekend and not for the right reasons. The Dane is just two points away from a race ban after getting ten penalty points in the first six races of the season. Away from that, he missed Free Practice One, with Bearman stepping in but did return for the second hour of practice, where he finished in the bottom half of the field.

“It’s a great track to drive, so it’s a pleasure to get in the car. It’s not an easy track to just jump in and be on it, but I wasn’t that far off. It’s super tight here, even tighter than usual, the midfield is crazy.

“I’m three or four tenths off Red Bull and I’m P17, so that tells you how close it is. You’re finding more and more time every lap and it’s probably the closest circuit to a street track that isn’t a street track because it’s so rough and raw, which I really enjoy.”

Alex Albon – Williams Racing – FP1: 20th, FP2: 18th

Alex Albon didn’t have an easy first day back on circuit after signing a new Williams Racing deal earlier in the week. During the first hour of practice, the Thai driver suffered an electrical issue ending his session early, while the second session was also quite disrupted, leaving him down in eighteenth.

“We’re obviously a little behind on track time today after the electrical issue I suffered in FP1. It took a while to find the issue and then fix it, however the team did a great job to get the car back out.

“It’s a difficult one because the car actually felt amazing out there; I don’t know whether it’s the track or the wind, but I feel like the car is on rails yet I’m P18, so we’ve got some work to do. Despite this, I’m enjoying it and it’s nice to come to a proper track. It’s not going to be easy but I’m happy with our progress so hopefully we can unlock some more.”

Logan Sargeant – Williams Racing – FP1: 18th, FP2: 20th

Once again, it was a difficult day for Logan Sargeant as his future in Formula 1 lies in the balance. The American finished the first hour of practice in eighteenth, while the second hour saw him spend a lot of time in the garage ending the day bottom of the timesheets.

“For sure FP2 was quite heavily compromised; we only got a couple of laps on low fuel, on which we had a little trouble getting the tyre working, so that’s the main topic to focus on.

“The balance of the car is in a good place but we’re not getting everything working as it should around it, so we need to figure that out. I’m really enjoying the track, it’s really cool and it’s on the edge. Tomorrow will be tricky, but we’ll do our best to get everything out of it.”

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