Russell tops final practice session in Imola

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

Mercedes topped the timesheets for the first time this season as George Russell posted the fastest time in the final practice session for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, beating the Red Bull of Sergio Perez and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in Imola.

Drivers were keen to head out onto the historic Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari as conditions were much more preferential following yesterday’s wet and chilly sessions.

Most of the drivers concentrated on this afternoon’s Sprint race, trying to replicate the fuel load that is necessary for the 21-lap session. Ferrari was the exception as the Scuderia appeared to run on very heavy fuel load at the beginning of the session before reverting to sprint specification in terms of fuel load for the second half of the session.

After the difficulties with heating up their tyres, Mercedes looked much more promising with George Russell setting the fastest time in the session. The Briton clocked 1m19.457s on the softs, 0.081s quicker than the Red Bull of Sergio Perez. The Mexican appeared to be the most convincing both on softs and mediums, showing not just great speed, but very good consistency as well.

Championship leader Charles Leclerc was a couple of tenths further back in third after spending the first half of the session in the lower range of the field. The Monegasque deliberately spent a few laps behind Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen during his second stint, trying to get a feel for the DRS zones and the way the turbulent air affects this year's new generation cars.

His team mate Carlos Sainz ended the session in P6 after starting his work a bit later with Ferrari making final-minutes tweaks to his SF-75 following his heavy crash in yesterday’s qualifying session.

Hamilton was complaining of a loss of power on his first laps, but the Briton went on to complete promising lap times during his two long runs. His championship rival from last year, reigning world champion Verstappen took 7th in the second practice session, racking up an eye-catching 36 laps around the Imola circuit.

AlphaTauri endured a horrible qualifying session yesterday with both Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly being eliminated in Q1. However, the Faenza-based outfit had a better practice on home soil with both drivers finishing in the top ten, registering the 8th and 9th fastest lap respectively.

The star of yesterday's qualifying Kevin Magnussen finished the 60-minute practice in P12, just ahead of his team mate Mick Schumacher. The Dane will start today's 100km sprint race from P4 after securing Haas' best ever qualifying result.

There was frustration for the McLaren and the Alfa Romeo teams. The British team discovered a mechnical problem for Daniel Ricciardo, who was unable to get any laps under his belt in the crucial session. His team mate Lando Norris was also hindered as a brake issue forced him to stay in the garage for much of the session.

Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas spent the the entire session in the garage with a mechanical issue. His team mate Zhou Guanyu had a better practice, setting the 10th fastest lap time while racking up a total of 32 laps.

163George RussellMercedes1:19.45731
211Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:19.538+0.081s32
316Charles LeclercFerrari1:19.740+0.283s34
444Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:19.992+0.535s33
514Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:20.174+0.717s28
655Carlos SainzFerrari1:20.258+0.801s30
71Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:20.371+0.914s35
822Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Rbpt1:20.381+0.924s34
910Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt1:20.439+0.982s36
1024Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:20.498+1.041s31
1123Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:20.591+1.134s33
1220Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:20.740+1.283s29
1347Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:20.977+1.520s28
1418Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:21.149+1.692s37
155Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:21.155+1.698s37
1631Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:21.179+1.722s29
176Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:21.263+1.806s30
184Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:23.821+4.364s5