Imola, FP1: Bottas quickest ahead of Hamilton, Verstappen

The session was then red-flagged


By Olivier Ferret

16 April 2021 - 12:12
Imola, FP1: Bottas quickest ahead (...)

Valtteri Bottas went quickest in the opening practice session for this weekend’s FIA Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with the Mercedes driver edging team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just four hundredths of a second. Third place in the session went to Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen who finished under two hundredths of a second further back.

The one-hour session got off to a busy start with a flurry of cars taking to the track and top spot changed hands frequently during the opening quarter of an hour. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was quickly to the fore with Bottas then leaping ahead with the time of 1:20.345s set on hard tyres. That was swiftly beaten by Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen though Bottas reclaimed P1 with an improved time of 1:19.312s.

Sergio Perez went quicker by a tenth of a second to claim top spot for red Bull Racing but his stay at the top was short as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz dipped below the 1m19s barrier with as P1 lap of 1:18.764s set on hard tyres.

Hamilton soon edged ahead of that but Sainz grabbed back control with a lap of 1:17.682.

The first incident of the morning saw AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunodo go off track at the Tamburello chicane and recover before team-mate Pierre Gasly vaulted to the top of the order with a lap on of 1:17.470. Within minutes Bottas was back out on track to reclaim P1 by a little over seven hundredths of a second. Sainz was enjoying the conditions, however, and he soon pushed past Bottas’ benchmark to set the benchmark at 1:17.296s.

The session was then red-flagged following what appeared to be contact between Pérez and Ocon.

Pérez exited the Villeneuve chicane with a deflated rear left tyre and with the carcass causing damage to the rear of his car. He slid to a halt as Ocon went past, though the French driver swiftly halted his Alpine a little further up the track with apparent front wing damage.

After a 10-minute delay the action resumed and with soft tyres on board. Hamilton jumped past Sainz’s time to claim P1 with a lap of 1:16.892s. Verstappen also took to the track on the red-banded compound as he rose to the top of the order with a lap of 1:16.622.

But both Mercedes driver went out for another attempt and both snuck past the Dutchman with Bottas returning to first place with a lap of 1:16.564. That put him 0.041s ahead of Hamilton and 0.058 in front of Verstappen.

Behind them, Charles Leclerc took fourth place despite missing a chunk of the session with a technical issue on his Ferrari. Gasly finished fifth ahead of Sainz with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso seventh ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll. Williams’ Nicholas Latifi was ninth and the top 10 was rounded out by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.

There was late red flag in the session when Haas’ Nikita Mazepin went wide on the exit of Rivazza and slid into the wall near the pitlane entry.

01 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 1:16.564 23
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 1:16.605 25
03 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:16.622 21
04 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 1:16.796 13
05 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:16.888 21
06 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 1:16.888 26
07 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 1:17.457 23
08 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:17.489 19
09 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:17.739 24
10 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:17.769 23
11 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:17.866 25
12 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:17.883 16
13 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:17.935 16
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:17.984 23
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:18.058 24
16 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:18.228 15
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A521 1:18.360 20
18 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:18.823 22
19 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:19.480 18
20 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:19.781 11

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