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Mercedes dominates first Emilia Romagna free practice

IMOLA, ITALY – APRIL 16: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari on April 16, 2021 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

The session started with several drivers going out to the track, with Valtteri Bottas setting the first time of 1:20.345 (2020 pole time was 1:13.609). Nikita Mazepin spun with 55 minutes to go down at Rivazza, going into the gravel trap. He, however, was able to continue into the pits.

45 minutes into the session, Yuki Tsunoda struggled as he went off into the gravel at Tamburello. He was able to get out of it and continue in the session, only causing a brief yellow flag.

At the same time, times were improving for Bottas’s first run, with Carlos Sainz being the fastest time of the session by the 43-minute mark with a 1:17.682, with Hamilton behind by a gap of 0.195s.

Pierre Gasly was able to beat Sainz’s time later in the session, setting a lap time of 1:17.470, 0.212s faster than the Ferrari driver.

With 25 minutes to go, the session was red-flagged due to a possible collision between Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon. This incident cannot be confirmed as the broadcasting of the session had issues and we didn’t get on-board footage, which we expect to get afterward.

Feed screenshot.

“I’ve only had it from the driver’s perspective. Esteban was on a slow lap, Sergio was on a hot lap and there’s been contact going into the corner. That’s all I can tell you without replays, from speaking to our drivers.,” Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal, said.

The checkered flag went off and then the red flag did as Mazepin spun and crashed into the wall before the pit entry.

In the end, it was Valtteri Bottas topping FP1 with a 1:16.554 with his teammate Lewis Hamilton behind by a gap of 0.041s. Full results below:

1Valtteri BottasMercedes1:16.564
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.041
3Max VerstappenRed Bull+0.058
4Charles LeclercFerrari+0.232
5Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri+0.324
6Carlos SainzFerrari+0.324
7Fernando AlonsoAlpine+0.893
8Lance StrollAston Martin+0.925
9Nicholas LatifiWilliams+1.175
10Daniel RicciardoMcLaren+1.205
11George RussellWilliams+1.302
12Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo+1.319
13Lando NorrisMcLaren+1.371
14Sebastian VettelAston Martin+1.420
15Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo+1.494
16Sergio PerezRed Bull+1.664
17Esteban OconAlpine+1.796
18Nikita MazepinHaas+2.259
19Mick SchumacherHaas+2.916
20Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri+3.217
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