Grand Prix practice results: Bottas fastest in both Imola sessions

Valtteri Bottas dominated the opening day of Emilia Romagna Grand Prix practice at Imola for Mercedes on Friday, the second round of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship season.

Grand Prix practice results: Bottas fastest in both Imola sessions
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Both Friday practice sessions have each been cut to one hour in 2021, instead of the usual 90 minutes each. FP1 was topped by Bottas, and he repeated the feat in FP2 – but only by 0.01s from teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen hit trouble when his driveshaft snapped in FP2, while Ferrari's Charles Leclerc hit the wall late on.

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix FP1 results: Bottas fastest from Hamilton

Cla Driver Laps Time Gap
1 Finland Valtteri Bottas 23 1'16.564  
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton 25 1'16.605 0.041
3 Netherlands Max Verstappen 21 1'16.622 0.058
4 Monaco Charles Leclerc 13 1'16.796 0.232
5 France Pierre Gasly 21 1'16.888 0.324
6 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. 26 1'16.888 0.324
7 Spain Fernando Alonso 23 1'17.457 0.893
8 Canada Lance Stroll 19 1'17.489 0.925
9 Canada Nicholas Latifi 24 1'17.739 1.175
10 Australia Daniel Ricciardo 23 1'17.769 1.205
11 United Kingdom George Russell 25 1'17.866 1.302
12 Finland Kimi Raikkonen 16 1'17.883 1.319
13 United Kingdom Lando Norris 16 1'17.935 1.371
14 Germany Sebastian Vettel 23 1'17.984 1.420
15 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi 24 1'18.058 1.494
16 Mexico Sergio Perez 15 1'18.228 1.664
17 France Esteban Ocon 20 1'18.360 1.796
18 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin 22 1'18.823 2.259
19 Germany Mick Schumacher 18 1'19.480 2.916
20 Japan Yuki Tsunoda 11 1'19.781 3.217

What happened in Free Practice 1?

The session began with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Haas’s Nikita Mazepin suffering early spins, while AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda visited Tamburello gravel trap after 15 minutes, from which he escaped but would remain rooted at the bottom of the times.

Teams used the majority of the session to run on hard tyres, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz leading the way on this rubber on 1m17.296s – with the second AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly also taking his turn at the top of the times.

The incidents continued, as Verstappen suffered a gravelly off at the start of his second hard-tyred run, while Hamilton chose the Variante Alta for his trip off the circuit. The session was interrupted with 22 minutes to go, when Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Perez collided on the approach to the Villeneuve chicane. Both cars were damaged, stranding them out on track and causing a red flag.

Having lost over 10 minutes of track time, all teams emerged using soft tyres, with Sainz lowering his P1 time to 1m17.197s.

Hamilton was the first driver into the 1m16s bracket, as Bottas got traffic on his first run on softs, forcing him to abort the lap, but he regrouped to set the quickest time of 1m16.564s to beat his teammate’s 1m16.605s. Verstappen was third, 0.058s off the pace – all three of them taking turns in P1 in the final moments of the session.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fourth fastest, despite spending over half the session stranded in the pits while the team investigated a problem. Gasly was fifth, ahead of Sainz, Fernando Alonso (Alpine) and Lance Stroll (Aston Martin).

Latifi suffered a big moment at Rivazza and slid through the gravel, but ended up an impressive ninth fastest, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren. The session ended as it began, with Mazepin spinning – this time hitting the wall near the pit entry.

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Emilia Romagna Grand Prix FP2 results: Bottas fastest from Hamilton again

Cla Driver Laps Time Gap
1 Finland Valtteri Bottas 25 1'15.551  
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton 26 1'15.561 0.010
3 France Pierre Gasly 30 1'15.629 0.078
4 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. 30 1'15.834 0.283
5 Monaco Charles Leclerc 28 1'16.371 0.820
6 Mexico Sergio Perez 25 1'16.411 0.860
7 Japan Yuki Tsunoda 26 1'16.419 0.868
8 United Kingdom Lando Norris 23 1'16.485 0.934
9 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi 25 1'16.513 0.962
10 Canada Lance Stroll 25 1'16.737 1.186
11 France Esteban Ocon 27 1'16.817 1.266
12 Canada Nicholas Latifi 29 1'16.823 1.272
13 Spain Fernando Alonso 27 1'16.835 1.284
14 Netherlands Max Verstappen 5 1'16.999 1.448
15 Germany Sebastian Vettel 27 1'17.092 1.541
16 United Kingdom George Russell 31 1'17.179 1.628
17 Finland Kimi Raikkonen 27 1'17.273 1.722
18 Australia Daniel Ricciardo 24 1'17.281 1.730
19 Germany Mick Schumacher 28 1'17.350 1.799
20 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin 16 1'17.857 2.306

What happened in Free Practice 2?

In FP2, the medium tyres were used by teams from the start. Leclerc led the way initially, eager to make up for his lack of track time in the first session, heading an early Ferrari 1-2.

McLaren’s Lando Norris suffered an off through the gravel in the opening five minutes, before Bottas and then Hamilton surged to the top of the times, Bottas setting the pace at 1m15.551s.

The main incident of FP2 happened after just 10 minutes, when Verstappen ground to a halt at the end of the pit lane after suffering a driveshaft failure exiting Rivazza, costing him valuable race-simulation running time.

Leclerc was the first of the frontrunners to switch to the soft tyre but had his 1m15.367s P1 time taken away from exceeding track limits at Piratella. On their soft-tyred runs both Hamilton and Bottas were slower than expected, seemingly struggling for rear-end grip – although Hamilton did improve to get within a hundredth of a second of his teammate's medium-tyred fastest time.

Gasly set the third fastest time, ahead of Sainz. Leclerc and Perez were next up, from Tsunoda and Norris.

Mazepin had one more off, a brief grassy moment at Variante Alta, but the session was ended early by Leclerc shunting at Rivazza, damaging his right-front corner against the wall.

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