Ricciardo, McLaren go missing in Emilia-Romagna GP practice
Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren were left searching for answers as Mercedes returned to the top of the field in practice for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.
Valterri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton produced the quickest times on Friday as Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc both ran into trouble in the second session.
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Bottas was quickest round the legendary Imola circuit in both sessions but only just, 0.01 seconds faster than his teammate Hamilton.
“We didn’t see the best from Red Bull today but we’ll see that in Q3 tomorrow. No doubt they are going to be fast,” admitted Bottas.
Ricciardo, McLaren go missing
McLaren’s best was also missing. Ricciardo posted just the 18th quickest lap after having his best time erased for reportedly exceeding track limits. Even that lap would have only been good enough for 11th as teammate Lando Norris managed eighth.
“We’ve got work to do tonight,” Ricciardo said. “We’ll spend a fair bit of time, you know, trying to figure out what we were missing today. I think we have to make changes to, let’s say, comfortably put ourselves in Q3 tomorrow. I think we do have to make some changes.
“We’re not really there yet. In saying that, it’s a cool track. I still had fun, but we obviously want to find some competitiveness tomorrow.”
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Qualifying high up the grid is essential at a track which became a favourite for Ricciardo last season when he secured a podium with Renault.
“It is really tricky to overtake here and we can’t really afford to put ourselves at the back of the pack after tomorrow afternoon,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports F1.
“But I certainly think tonight, at least from my side, it’s definitely all the focus on one lap performance, to try and qualify there, be there (at the front). And a bit like last year for me, you know, we were there when it mattered and it put us on the podium. So yeah, I think tomorrow afternoon is very important.”
Daniel Ricciardo is searching for answers. (Photo by Laurent Charniaux – Pool/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Are Mercedes now favourites?
Seven-time world champion Hamilton said he hoped Imola would favour Mercedes more than Red Bull over the weekend.
“The team worked very hard to understand what happened in the last race where we were weak and to see if we can try to tweak the car for a better set-up,” he said.
“I also think the track has come a little bit more in our direction.”
The Mercedes pair were followed by AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Leclerc who crashed into a wall at the end of the second session, prompting a red flag and the decision not to restart.
There was bad news for Red Bull too as Verstappen pulled up with a mechanical problem.
“Something snapped on the rear,” Verstappen told his team.
The Dutchman, who finished second behind Hamilton in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, had earlier clocked the third-fastest time in the opening session behind the two Mercedes.
No action on Perez-Ocon collision; ‘Mazespin’ is back
The first session was also marked by two red flags.
A collision between Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and the Alpine of Esteban Ocon, which escaped the cameras, resulted in both cars off the track.
Perez, who was on a “flying” lap, according to his team boss Christian Horner, had a damaged rear-left tyre while Ocon, on a “slow” lap, had a broken front right.
The drivers were called to the stewards to explain the incident but no further action was taken.
“The two cars reached the apex at the same time, and just barely touched wheels,” said the stewards’ report.
“Both drivers agreed in the hearing that it was an unfortunate miscommunication of timing between them, not helped by the fact that both drivers had limited or no communications with their teams at the time.
“Both drivers agreed that neither was at fault.”
They were both back in business for the second session with Perez clocking the sixth fastest time.
Nikita Mazepin can’t stay on the track.Source:Supplied
The second red flag of the morning came just before the end of the session after Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin went too wide into a corner and spun.
It was another unfortunate incident for the 22-year-old Russian. He failed to complete the opening lap in Bahrain and has been tagged with the nickname ‘Mazespin’.
Practice times after second session
1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1min 15.551sec
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) at 0.01sec
3. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) 0.078
4. Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari) 0.283
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 0.82
6. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 0.86
7. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) 0.868
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) 0.934
9. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) 0.962
10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) 1.186
11. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) 1.266
12. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) 1.272
13. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) 1.284
14. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1.448
15. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) 1.541
16. George Russell (Williams) 1.628
17. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) 1.722
18. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) 1.73
19. Mick Schumacher (Haas) 1.799
20. Nikita Mazepin (Haas) 2.306
— with AFP
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