Ferrari dominates crucial FP1 in Imola

Image courtesy of Ferrari

Ferrari dominates crucial FP1 in Imola

Formula 1

Ferrari dominates crucial FP1 in Imola

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Charles Leclerc led teammate Carlos Sainz to a dominant Ferrari one-two in a wet first practice for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

The Scuderia was almost 1.5s quicker than any other team around the tricky wet track, with Max Verstappen next best in third. It’s a potential portent for the rest of the weekend given first practice is the only session not run to parc ferme conditions according to the sprint weekend format, with qualifying coming later today.

Rain had lashed the Imola circuit all night, and cold conditions this afternoon ensured the surface remained wet and treacherously low in grip throughout the hour.

Several drivers took trips into the gravel, particularly at the Rivazza left-handers onto the front straight, while the curbs at Variante Alta and Acque Minerale generated regular spins. Leclerc in particular was lucky not to end his session early in the barriers at Tamburello, his car recovering from a spin just before it left the track to ensure he could continue.

But around halfway through the 60-minute session enough standing water had been dispersed to use the intermediate rubber, and the times began to tumble dramatically, so much so that more than 10s split the field at the end.

The Ferrari SF-75 was comfortably the class of the field in the wet. Leclerc and Sainz traded quickest times until the time expired with the Monegasque in the lead, his lap of 1m 29.402s almost 0.9s quicker than the Spaniard’s best effort.

Verstappen slotted into third at 1.465s off the pace after a relatively trouble-free session.

Haas teammates Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher were next best, taking fourth and fifth at three seconds and 3.5s off the pace to split Verstappen from Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez, who was sixth and 3.6s down.

Fernando Alonso was seventh for Alpine with a newly upgraded floor ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.

George Russell was 10th in a worryingly sluggish start to the weekend for Mercedes. His W13 struggled to switch on either compound in the chilly conditions, and the young Briton also suffered particularly bad bouncing after losing his floor stays, which help prevent to keep the floor from flexing at high speed.

Valtteri Bottas was 11th for Alfa Romeo and ended the hour beached in the gravel at Acque Minerali. The Finn spun his way through the corner and missed losing his front wing by just inches as his car ground to a halt, but the rear tires had dug themselves deep into the gravel and left him stranded on track and more than five seconds off the pace.

Pierre Gasly was 12th for AlphaTauri ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and McLaren teammates Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo.

Lance Stroll was 16th for Aston Martin ahead of Williams driver Alex Albon, who appeared to suffer anti-stall issues along with teammate Nicholas Latifi, who was 20th behind Lewis Hamilton and Zhou Guanyu at the foot of the time sheet.

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