F1: Leclerc tops wet Imola practice ahead of qualifying

On a very wet Imola circuit in Italy, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc turned the fastest lap of 1m29.402s in his #16 Ferrari.

Despite a couple of spins on the slick track, Leclerc set his fast lap after switching to Intermediate Pirelli tires and beat his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. by 0.877s in the #55 Ferrari.

Max Verstappen was third, a whopping 1.465s behind Leclerc in his Red Bull.

Kevin Magnussen was 4th quick for Haas using Ferrari power, while Sergio Perez rounded out the top-5 in the 2nd Red Bull.

The biggest surprise of the session were the Mercedes. As expected, George Russell again was faster than his teammate Lewis Hamilton. Russell 4.860s back and Hamilton 7.062s back – slow and out to lunch when he does not have a superior car like he has had for the past 7 years.

George Russell again the faster of the two factory Mercedes drivers

“This is all about getting grip in the tire temperature, Ferrari seem to be able to unlock this and everyone else is all over the place. The feedback we are getting from Lewis and George is there is zero grip. If we can unlock that issue, we will get a jump forwards,”  said Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal

The fastest Mercedes-powered driver was Sebastian Vettel in 8th

The session ended with Valtteri Bottas in the barriers at the exit of Acque Minerali!

“I’m just trying to reverse,” he tells the team, sounding incredibly downbeat… And in reversing, he beached his back wheels in the gravel.

There is some good news for the Finn – replays show that he too took a touch of the white line, spinning around and, in the end, stopping millimeters from the barrier. No mechanical damage then, as the team breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Qualifying takes place at 11:00AM ET. It follows the same format as usual – Q1, Q2 and Q3 determining the grid. But that is the grid for tomorrow’s Sprint, where there are points on offer for the first eight over the line.
The finishing order tomorrow determines the grid for Sunday’s race.

Practice 1 Results

1 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:29.402 +0.000s 23
2 55 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:30.279 +0.877s 25
3 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing RBPT 1:30.867 +1.465s 20
4 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:32.439 +3.037s 22
5 47 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari 1:32.988 +3.586s 22
6 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing RBPT 1:33.012 +3.610s 17
7 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault 1:33.160 +3.758s 13
8 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes 1:33.365 +3.963s 21
9 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT 1:33.611 +4.209s 18
10 63 George Russell Mercedes 1:34.262 +4.860s 20
11 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:34.615 +5.213s 19
12 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT 1:35.104 +5.702s 19
13 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1:35.420 +6.018s 14
14 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 1:35.502 +6.100s 12
15 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes 1:35.625 +6.223s 14
16 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 1:36.033 +6.631s 22
17 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 1:36.461 +7.059s 16
18 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.464 +7.062s 16
19 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:37.450 +8.048s 21
20 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 1:39.698 +10.296s 14