Imola, Free Practice: Hamilton quickest in practice for Emilia Romagna GP

Verstappen 2nd, Bottas 3rd


By Olivier Ferret

31 October 2020 - 11:38
Imola, Free Practice: Hamilton (...)

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton went quickest in the sole practice session for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as Formula 1 returned to Imola for a grand prix weekend for the first time since 2006. Hamilton beat Red Bull Racing’s Max Versatppen by almost three tenths of a second as Valtteri Bottas took third place in the sister Mercedes.

With a revised two-day programme in place for this event, drivers and team had just 90 minutes in which to prepare for qualifying and tomorrow’s race and with practice compressed from its usual four hours on Friday and Saturday the track was busy throughout.

Verstappen was initially quickest on Pirelli’s C2 tyre, the compound nominated as this weekend’s hard tyre, with the Dutch driver working his way to a best time of 1:15.338 on the white-banded rubber.

Mercedes, meanwhile, spent the opening part of the session on medium tyres, with Hamilton getting to within two hundredths of a second of Verstappen and with Bottas four tenths of a second further back.

Verstappen was then one of the early adopters of soft tyres as ther majority of the field began to switch to performance runs.

The Red Bull driver traded fastest times with Bottas but then put down a stronger marker with a lap of 1:15.023 that gave him an advantage of almost two tenths over the Finn. Hamilton put in two push laps on the soft and after splitting the top two he went quickest swith his second lap setting as new benchmark of 1:14.726 that would last until the chequered flag.

The top three then shifted their attention to longer runs, with Verstappen trying both the soft and hard tyres over distance while Mercedes again looked at long-run pace on the mediums.

Late in the session there was a sudden burst of activity as a clutch of drivers put in late qualifying simulations. Like Hamilton, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly put in two push laps and after jumping from P10 to P6 with his first he then climbed even higher to finish the session in P4 thanks to lap of 1:15.633 that left him 0.907 adrift of Hamilton.

Charles Leclerc took fifth place for Ferrari six hundredths of as second behind Gasly. The Monegasque driver’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel spent much of the session on hard tyrtes before he too put in a late run on softs. The German completed six laps on the red-walled tyre on his way to P12.

Behind Leclerc Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth for Renault, with team-mate Esteban Ocon a tenth behind in seventh. Daniil Kvyat was eighth for AlphaTauri, a little over three tenths of a second behind Gasly, while Red Bull’s Alexander Albon ended up ninth on 1:16.061 over second behind team-mate Verstappen. The top 10 was rounded out by Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.

01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W11 1:14.726 46
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16 1:15.023 39
03 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W11 1:15.218 47
04 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT01 1:15.633 46
05 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF1000 1:15.688 41
06 Daniel Ricciardo Renault RS20 1:15.839 32
07 Esteban Ocon Renault RS20 1:15.945 44
08 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri Honda AT01 1:15.966 47
09 Alex Albon Red Bull Honda RB16 1:16.061 41
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes RP20 1:16.082 42
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes RP20 1:16.109 42
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF1000 1:16.167 40
13 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari VF-20 1:16.550 42
14 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault MCL35 1:16.560 42
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39 1:16.564 33
16 Lando Norris McLaren Renault MCL35 1:16.671 45
17 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39 1:16.684 43
18 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43 1:16.780 43
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-20 1:17.060 45
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43 1:17.779 29


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