Hamilton tops the sole practice session as Mercedes dominates at Imola

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Emilia Romagna, Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrariit

When the action got underway at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas once again demonstrated the superior performance of their W11 with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen splitting the Anglo-German team’s duo.

Pirelli chose the middle three tyres in its range: C2 as the P Zero White hard, C3 as the P Zero Yellow medium, and C4 as the P Zero Red soft. Most of the drivers used the hard compound for their first run to ensure that they had a relatively constant tyre behaviour when getting acquainted with the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit.

Following the first run, Max Verstappen found himself at the top of the leaderboard after setting a time of 1m15.912 on the Hard Pirelli boots. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was the second fastest, enjoying the benefits of a pre-season run at Imola which his Faenza-based team completed back in June.

Track limits presented drivers with a huge challenge with many of them losing lap time for exceeding the boundaries of the Imola circuit. Red Bull racer Alexander Albon found it particularly difficult to find the limits which saw him lose several fast laps.

Following problems on his first run, Valtteri Bottas posted a 1m15.783 on Pirelli’s Yellow medium tyres to fly to the top. However, Verstappen registered a 1 15.338 after his team opted for the red-walled softs for the Dutchman’s second stint.

For his second stint, Ferrari drivers opted for the soft compound. Leclerc complained about severe understeering, lack of front grip and could hardly improve on his previous best time despite the track improvements and the compound that was two steps softer than the one used during his initial stint.

Of the top drivers, Bottas was the first to head out on to the track with the third set of fresh tyres. The Finn was unhappy on his first flying lap, complaining about the understeery nature of his W11. However, he could generate enough heat into the front tyres for his third hot lap and improved his best time to 1:15.378.

Vettel and Leclerc completed a race run in the middle of the practice with the German using the hard and the Monegasque the soft compound. The two-time race winner complained about his car, claiming that it „is so difficult to drive.”

Renault showed a better form than they did in Portugal. Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon ended up sixth and seventh fastest with only a tenth of a second separating the duo of the Enstone-Viry-based French outfit.

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly impressed again with his speed, ending up fourth, but the eighth fastest lap posted by his teammate Daniil Kvyat showed that the Faenza-based team is a true contender for top ten finishes at Imola.

Ferrari drivers were the last to hit the track with their last set of fresh Pirelli rubber. Despite suffering from traffic and tyre warm-up issues, Leclerc flew up to P5 while his teammate Vettel also made a jump from the last spot to P12.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:14.72645
233Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:15.023+0.297s38
377Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:15.218+0.492s46
410Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA1:15.633+0.907s45
516Charles LeclercFERRARI1:15.688+0.962s39
63Daniel RicciardoRENAULT1:15.839+1.113s31
731Esteban OconRENAULT1:15.945+1.219s43
826Daniil KvyatALPHATAURI HONDA1:15.966+1.240s46
923Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA1:16.061+1.335s40
1018Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:16.082+1.356s41
1111Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:16.109+1.383s41
125Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:16.167+1.441s39
138Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:16.550+1.824s41
1455Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT1:16.560+1.834s41
1599Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:16.564+1.838s32
164Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT1:16.671+1.945s44
177Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:16.684+1.958s42
1863George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:16.780+2.054s42
1920Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:17.060+2.334s44
206Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:17.779+3.053s28