In a rainy first practise at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari one-two ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Leclerc was 0.877 seconds faster than Carlos Sainz, with Verstappen trailing the championship leader by 1.465 seconds.
Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher of Haas finished fourth and fifth, ahead of Sergio Perez of Red Bull. The first ‘sprint’ event of the season will take place in Imola, Italy, with qualifying beginning at 16:00 BST!
Qualifying determines the grid for Saturday’s sprint race, which determines the grid for the main grand prix and provides points to the top eight finishers.
After heavy overnight rain, practise began very wet, and the drivers switched from the ‘extreme’ wet tyres to the more lightly treaded ‘intermediates’ around midway through.
Leclerc, who has two wins and a second place in the first three races, had a few spins as he tested the Ferrari’s capabilities in the rain for the first time, but he finished the practise with an outstanding lead over the pack.
Early on, the conditions were quite difficult, with Leclerc spinning twice on full wet tyres. He then spun twice more, when the track became suitable for intermediates.
George Russell was the fastest Mercedes driver in 10th place, nearly five seconds off the pace, with Lewis Hamilton a further two seconds back in 18th place. Both drivers used the complete set of wet tyres.
Haas triumphed in the challenging circumstances, with Kevin Magnussen finishing fourth, albeit three seconds off the pace, and teammate Mick Schumacher rounding out the top five.
Sergio Perez finished sixth, followed by Fernando Alonso, who is testing Alpine’s new floor this weekend, and Sebastian Vettel, who finished eighth for Aston Martin.
Yuki Tsunoda led the AlphaTauri, which has a drastically reworked floor this weekend, in ninth place, with Mercedes’ George Russell rounding out the top ten.
Lando Norris of McLaren suffered an off at the Acque Minerali corner, resulting in a temporary red flag with five minutes to go, although he was able to return to the track without assistance.
Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo also lost control at the same corner near the end of the session, becoming beached where the gravel trap ended and a piece of asphalt began.
Zhou Guanyu finished 19th for Alfa Romeo, with Nicholas Latifi finishing the classification for Williams, 10.2 seconds behind the leader.