Mercedes one-two in practice at Imola, problems for Red Bull

Mercedes topped both practice sessions for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix as Red Bull endured a torrid day on Friday.

Red Bull was favored heading to Imola but fortunes swung in Mercedes' favor as the reigning championship team managed a one-two in both practices while its rival finished each session with just one driver.

Valtteri Bottas was fastest in both, edging Lewis Hamilton by just .010 seconds in the second practice and .041 in the first.

Pierre Gasly, who briefly separated the two Mercedes drivers, was .078 slower than Bottas in the second practice.

It is his AlphaTauri team's home race, with its Faenza base located 15 kilometers from the track

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who looks set to be Hamilton's closest rival this season, had a problem with his car early in the second practice and his session ended abruptly 10 minutes in.

Verstappen had been third-fastest in the morning, .058 behind Bottas.

Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez failed to finish the morning practice after an incident with Esteban Ocon heading into the Villeneuve chicane.

The rear left tire of Perez's car was ripped off and the front of Ocon's Alpine suffered heavy damage after the pair came together.

That led to a temporary suspension of the session with about 22 minutes left. The red flags came out again shortly after the end of the session as Nikita Mazepin spun off and crashed into the barriers at the pit lane exit.

There were more red flags in the afternoon forcing the session to come to a premature end, approximately four minutes before schedule, after Charles Leclerc crashed his Ferrari into the barriers.

The Ferrari drivers, Carlos Sainz and Leclerc, completed the top five in second practice. There was less than one second separating first and ninth.

There is a third and final practice session on Saturday ahead of qualifying.

The Emilia-Romagna GP is the second race of the Formula One season. Hamilton won the opener in Bahrain last month, just ahead of Verstappen after a thrilling duel.


(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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