How the teams reacted on the Friday sessions

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168 days on from the race held there on 1st November last year, Formula 1 teams and driver are back at the Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola for the second round of the 2021 season.

The opening day of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was a very solid Friday for Mercedes after their sub-optimal showing at the 2021 F1 season-opener in Bahrain. Although the Silver Arrows managed to win the Manama race, Red Bull were able to keep up in terms of outright performance in the desert.

However, the Brackley-based outfit turned up in a dominant form at Imola. There are clear reasons behind the lift in performance – the team brought a few aerodynamic updates which are “working correctly” according to Mercedes. The team also indicated that the cold air and track also help their W12, meaning that it is not suffering from poor rear grip.

Ferrari Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:16.796, P4; FP2: 1:16.371, P5

"This was definitely a good day, despite the time lost in the first session and the incident just at the end of the second one. The car is quick, the balance is good and I felt at ease immediately. Of course, it’s only tomorrow that we will find out the pecking order, because maybe someone hasn’t shown their full potential.

"This afternoon, I made a mistake while pushing flat out in race trim. I’m sorry for the guys but at least there were only two minutes to go. I was pleased with my quick lap: the time that was cancelled because of a couple of centimetres would have been quickest overall and even over a long run I think we have found a good balance. The track is really great and I can’t wait to get back in the car tomorrow for qualifying, when I think a good result can be within our grasp."

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:16.888, P6; FP2: 1:15.834, P4

"It was an important day for me as I was looking forward to driving the car for the first time somewhere other than Bahrain. The different corners, tarmac, temperatures, etc. made it an interesting day for sure. It seems we could be a bit more competitive this weekend and, in general, the feeling with the car was positive as the conditions suits us better.

"You can feel some more grip and I am enjoying it out there, building up the confidence lap by lap trying to find the limit around the entire track. I’m not quite there yet, but today was a good start to the weekend and we still have FP3 to fine tune everything ahead of qualifying tomorrow."


Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:16.888, P5; FP2: 1:15.629, P3

“I think this has been one of our best Fridays as a team, P4 this morning and P3 this afternoon, and I was so close to the top guys. I’ve felt good in the car since the first lap and I managed to push pretty hard, as well as drive the way I wanted, so I think it’s been a successful day. We focused on short runs initially with the Softs, which looked strong pace wise and then completed some high-fuel laps in preparation for the race on Sunday. We’ve continued to work hard to improve against our main rivals in the midfield and I think, so far, we’ve shown that the pace is good. We’ll analyse the data that we’ve collected again tonight and hopefully we can find a little bit more again in qualifying tomorrow.”

Yuki Tsunoda - FP1: 1:19.781, P20; FP2: 1:16.419, P7

“I didn’t manage to complete many laps during FP1, due to an issue, and only managed four push laps in total but the car felt good whilst I was out. The team fixed the issue during the break and I was able to build-up my pace in FP2 as I continued to push more – hopefully I’ll be able to improve again in tomorrow’s practice session ahead of qualifying. I’ve completed a lot of laps here pre-season, but I think I still managed to gain a lot from the sessions today. I particularly learnt about tyre management around this circuit and have a lot of interesting data from the softs that I can now go and analyse.”

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:16.605, P2; FP2: 1:15.561, P2

"The team worked very hard to understand what happened in the last race where we were weak and to see if we can try to tweak the car for a better set up. I also think the track has come a little bit more in our direction. We started off with a really good set up today, a few tweaks here and there but no major issues. So far, good pace from us this weekend.

"We haven't seen the best from the Red Bulls yet. It looks like they had messy sessions with traffic but it will be interesting to see just how quick they are tomorrow. Positioning is important here - it's hard to follow around this track so nailing the set-up and maximising tomorrow is going to be so important."

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:16.564, P1; FP2: 1:15.551, P1

"The car is feeling much better than on the first day in Bahrain. As I said yesterday, it is a different track and type of circuit with different grip levels and surface. The weekend has started in a positive way, I'm much happier with the balance of the car.

"The car feels better, we still have the same type of issues as in Bahrain but less so. Still not perfect but we are only on event two out of 23 this season so hopefully we have time to fix it. I feel like we've made steps forward so that's really good. The whole grid from midfield to the front looks very close. We didn't see the best from Red Bull today but we'll see that in Q3 tomorrow. No doubt they are going to be fast. We still don't think we are the fastest car and we really need to improve on that on Saturday."

Red Bull Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:16.622, P3; FP2: 1:16.999, P14

"I like Italy. The food is good and I enjoy being here but we don’t seem to have been that lucky with the driving here recently, so hopefully that will change. I had a driveshaft issue so we had to stop the car in FP2 and it wasn’t the easiest to get the car back to the pits so I couldn’t get back out on track. The car felt alright in FP1 and it is difficult to say how the second session would have been but we will still be able to look at the data and see what we can do better for tomorrow in terms of balance. Of course it would have been better to have the session but I don’t think missing running in FP2 is the end of the world as we know what we need to do tomorrow. We just have to focus on ourselves and make sure we get the best out of our package."

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:18.228, P16; FP2: 1:16.411, P6

“It was definitely good to get a decent amount of laps in the second session today and to get a feel for the car on a different track. The track conditions are obviously very different here compared to Bahrain so I’m just learning how the car behaves on different tracks. We’ve learnt a lot today as a Team and for every lap I do, I learn a few tricks here and there. The race pace seems to be strong and the car felt good, hopefully we can pull it all together in qualifying tomorrow. With the incident this morning, we didn’t have radio so I think there was a miscommunication through there and I think it was just bad timing.”

Williams George Russell – FP1: 1:17.866, P11; FP2: 1:17.179, P16

"As a team we are looking relatively fast, but personally I am a bit off the pace. Nicholas is driving really well, probably the best I have seen him drive. I need to improve quite a bit to close the gap to our competitors, and to Nicholas. As a team we are in a good position, we have a lot of data to review but I’m sure that my engineers and I can figure it out."

Nicholas Latifi - FP1: 1:17.739, P9; FP2: 1:16.823, P12

"I think it was a very positive day. For the most part we ran without hitches and we were able to get through the run plan quite smoothly. I was expecting the car to feel much better than it did in Bahrain, and it was better than expected. We still have some work to do, you don’t get anything for having a strong Friday. Tomorrow afternoon is when it counts, but we are setting ourselves up nicely to have a strong Saturday and Sunday."

McLaren Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:17.769, P10; FP2: 1:17.281, P18

“It’s really cool to be back on this track. It’s pretty awesome. The day itself was a bit difficult. We’ve definitely got a few things to work on overnight to get some more out of the car. It was a challenging day, but we’ve got a session in the morning tomorrow to figure it out ahead of quali. We’ll try to address the issues today and put ourselves in a good place for tomorrow.”

Lando Norris - FP1: 1:17.935, P13; FP2: 1:16.485, P8

"Tricky day, just because it was quite messy – not from our side necessarily, but because of the yellow flags, red flags and things like that. There were also a few problems with radio and things which again weren't our fault, but made it a hectic session. Many things to work on going into tomorrow. I wouldn't say we're as confident as we were a couple of weeks ago, but I think we can make some good improvements going into tomorrow to make the car a bit nicer to drive, a bit more comfortable and give myself a bit more confidence as well. I don’t think we’re in a bad position, but we definitely have some work to do."

Alpine Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:18.360, P17; FP2: 1:16.817, P11

“We’ve made a positive start to the weekend even with this morning’s incident. Fortunately for Sergio [Perez] and I, we didn’t lose too much track time, which is important with the one-hour sessions. The incident was unfortunate, but we were able to put it behind us and move on to the afternoon. The mechanics did a great job in turning the car around on time, so thanks to them for their quick and solid work. I think we have a solid base to work from. There are still some things to tweak with the balance, but the car behaves quite well here and I’m looking forward to pushing on over the next two days.”

Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:17.457, P7; FP2: 1:16.835, P13

“It was a good Friday and we completed our programme today with no issues. Apart from the red flags and other incidents that stopped the two sessions, I was happy with the test items we put on the car and I felt an improvement in the performance. Let’s see where we are tomorrow and hopefully there is a little more still to come. As we suspected it’s going to be very close again so qualifying should be interesting. It was great to drive again in Imola and feel the car in these high grip conditions.”

Aston Martin Sebastian Vettel – FP1: 1:17.984, P14; FP2: 1:17.092, P15

"Part of today’s programme involved testing some new aero parts and the early signs are encouraging – especially in terms of my feeling in the car. That should help us take a step forward this weekend. I believe we can be more competitive than in Bahrain. We learned a huge amount from the first race and the work over the last few weeks – in the factory and here at the track – has certainly helped us make some improvements ahead of this weekend. I think the data we have from today’s sessions will help us take some more steps forward ahead of qualifying."

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:17.489, P8; FP2: 1:16.737, P10

"It is great to be back in Imola because it is such an awesome circuit. It is really satisfying to drive, especially the way you can attack the circuit and use the kerbs. It reminds me of my karting days. I would call it an old school circuit; it punishes errors, and I think that’s why the drivers enjoy it so much. It is quite different from the open layout of Bahrain and the car naturally feels different as a result, but I felt good today and we completed some important work. We now have plenty of information to analyse this evening, but it has been a promising start to the weekend."

Alfa Romeo Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:17.883, P12; FP2: 1:17.273, P17

“It wasn’t a bad day for us, even though the timesheets don’t really show it. We couldn’t put a lap together in the short runs, so I am not too worried: let’s see what we can do tomorrow. There are things we can improve a bit tonight, as always, so hopefully we can get a bit more performance out of the car. The objective is the same – to clear Q1 and fight for a spot as high on the grid as we can.”

Antonio Giovinazzi - FP1: 1:18.058, P15; FP2: 1:16.513, P9

“We had a good start of the weekend. FP1 was a good session, a bit compromised with the radio and data issue – but that applies to everyone. I was very happy with the car in FP2, both in the short and long runs. We need to adjust a few things to make the car even better for qualifying as we know it will be tight – even more than it was in Bahrain. It’s hard to say where we expect to be, as a tiny difference between a lap and the other can make a big difference: we need to put together a perfect lap in qualifying.”

Haas Mick Schumacher – FP1: 1:19.480, P19; FP2: 1:17.350, P19

“It was fun, it felt great out there today. The track didn’t change much from 2016, so that was a positive. In terms of feeling and in terms of fun, it was definitely similar to my last visit here back then. The colder conditions today meant we could push a lot more consecutively, which has positives and also negatives.

T"he negative just being it’s a cold temperature and it takes ages to warm up the tyres. Sometimes even in the long runs its hard to get the temperatures in there and to keep them there is even harder. As a positive it means a lot of laps so I can try a lot of things straight away, especially on the C2 tyre. I was really able to find out the limit especially in FP2 and improve with each lap on the C4. The first lap was a warm up then we went through the run and improved with each lap. For now, we’re quite happy but it only really counts in qualifying.”

Nikita Mazepin – FP1: 1:18.823, P18; FP2: 1:17.857, P20

“I think we had a positive day – I really learned a lot about the car. I think I made another very good step forward with the team in terms of understanding what car I want to drive. I had a good lap time in FP1, it was a good quali simulation, I was happy with it. I then made a mistake which there was no coming back from, but overall, it was a positive FP1 and then FP2. I’m not leaving anything on the table out there. I wouldn’t want to go to sleep thinking I’ve left some time out there. There's a balance of course, which I haven’t mastered yet, but we have time. All eyes are on FP3 now – the weekend progresses and I have to keep progressing with it as well.”