Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Imola, 2021

Bottas tops another close practice session at Imola as car fault stops Verstappen

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix second practice

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Mercedes continued their strong start to the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix weekend with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton setting the pace in second practice.

Bottas, who was fastest in all three segments of qualifying at Imola last year, topped both of today’s one-hour sessions. In the second session of the day, the two Mercedes drivers initially set the pace on medium tyres and for a long time they were more than a second up on everyone else.

As was the case in Bahrain, the W12s were little quicker on the soft compound. Bottas’s session-topping lap was set on the medium tyre, while Hamilton’s best was on the soft compound, moving him within a hundredth of a second of his team mate.

Their closest rival after he switched to the soft tyre was AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who ended the session 0.078 seconds off Bottas’s benchmark and 0.068s behind Hamilton.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jnr and Charles Leclerc were fourth and fifth, although they were separated by over half a second after Leclerc’s fastest lap was deleted for a track limits violation. He crashed at Rivazza Two with four minutes to go after trying to correct a spin while searching for a lap time improvement on the medium tyre. His error resulted in the session coming to an early end.

Sergio Perez recovered from his crash in first practice to go sixth fastest for Red Bull, eight thousandths of a second up on fellow Honda-powered driver Yuki Tsunoda in the second AlphaTauri. There was less fortune for the second Red Bull driver, as a suspected driveshaft failure caused Max Verstappen’s car to stop on track. That left him 14th on the timesheet with just a handful of laps completed, having lost valuable running.

The top 10 was completed by McLaren’s Lando Norris, Alfa Romeo’s home favourite Antonio Giovinazzi and Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll. Norris’ team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was only 18th after he had his best lap time deleted for a track limits infringement. The Haas drivers were the slowest as they struggled with their car, though Nikita Mazepin at least managed a more productive session after his two spins this morning.

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2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix second practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes1’15.55125
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’15.5610.01026
310Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’15.6290.07830
455Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’15.8340.28330
516Charles LeclercFerrari1’16.3710.82028
611Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’16.4110.86025
722Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’16.4190.86826
84Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’16.4850.93423
999Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’16.5130.96225
1018Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’16.7371.18625
1131Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’16.8171.26627
126Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’16.8231.27229
1314Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’16.8351.28427
1433Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’16.9991.4485
155Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’17.0921.54127
1663George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’17.1791.62831
177Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’17.2731.72227
183Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’17.2811.73024
1947Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’17.3501.79928
209Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’17.8572.30616

Second practice visual gaps

Valtteri Bottas – 1’15.551

+0.010 Lewis Hamilton – 1’15.561

+0.078 Pierre Gasly – 1’15.629

+0.283 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’15.834

+0.820 Charles Leclerc – 1’16.371

+0.860 Sergio Perez – 1’16.411

+0.868 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’16.419

+0.934 Lando Norris – 1’16.485

+0.962 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’16.513

+1.186 Lance Stroll – 1’16.737

+1.266 Esteban Ocon – 1’16.817

+1.272 Nicholas Latifi – 1’16.823

+1.284 Fernando Alonso – 1’16.835

+1.448 Max Verstappen – 1’16.999

+1.541 Sebastian Vettel – 1’17.092

+1.628 George Russell – 1’17.179

+1.722 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’17.273

+1.730 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’17.281

+1.799 Mick Schumacher – 1’17.350

+2.306 Nikita Mazepin – 1’17.857

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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30 comments on “Bottas tops another close practice session at Imola as car fault stops Verstappen”

  1. I really love this track, It just highlights for me what I feel is wrong with so many of the newer venues.

    I’d really prefer a 16-18 race season on tracks like this than a 20-25 race season padded out by the newer circuits that all look/feel very samey, that lack any character & which just aren’t interesting to watch cars driving around.

    It’s just so much more spectacular to watch the cars lapping a track like this, Especially when you have some of the lower/closer trackside angles that FOM are using this weekend.

    1. @stefmeister Couldn’t agree more Stef.

    2. Totally agree for qualifying – totally disagree for racing.
      This track is not a racing track with modern F1 cars.

      As for character – well, I don’t know about you, but I always know which track they are at within one camera shot.
      And most of them aren’t interesting because of the rubbish cars, not just because of the circuit design

    3. I’d really prefer a 16-18 race season on tracks like this than a 20-25 race season padded out by the newer circuits that all look/feel very samey, that lack any character & which just aren’t interesting to watch cars driving around.


      Maybe it’s just me, but I find it difficult to understand the notion that having less races would be beneficial when you’re still going to have 16-18 exciting tracks to visit whether it’s a 16 or 25 race calendar. Of course, I’d love to have 20-25 exciting races but that simply isn’t going to happen at the moment (not that we shouldn’t continue to strive for that, it would certainly be the dream!).

      It’s a somewhat selfish viewpoint I have but it just means more F1 weekends for us to feast on, whilst still having a very strong line-up of exciting tracks.

      Even if the “meh” tracks aren’t as exciting, they still have value in that they still contribute to the overall narrative of an F1 season in other, more subtle ways, and allow us to see these incredible pieces of machinery in action (even if they do spend a lot of time in-tandem). Even if the dreaded Paul Ricard is on the horizon, I’m just happy that it’s at least an F1 weekend. Though maybe that says more about the quality of my own free time on weekends haha.

      I can definitely see where you’re coming from though, I respect your viewpoint!

      1. For me it’s also that I just feel that 20+ races is too many, Partly as I think the more you have the less special each starts to feel but also because too much of anything is never a good thing.

        When we had 16/17 races every 2-3 weeks from late March to Mid October it fely like every race was an event to look forward. You watched it over that weekend & then had 2-3 weeks to get excited for the next & a 4-5 month off season to recharge so that by the time you got to race 1 I was eager to get going.
        I just sort of feel like as we went to 20+ it started to feel like less of a big event every 2-3 weeks & more of just a routine thing almost every weekend for most of the year & it’s just starting to lose that shine for me. I still enjoy watching cars on track but I no longer look forward to it as I once did in part as it’s starting to feel like all i’m doing every weekend is watching F1. I have friends/family I want to spend time with & other categories & events I want to watch & the more F1 race weekends there are the more clashes with those other things which is a part of why i’m actually watching less other categories now than ever before.

        And something that really hasn’t helped is sessions starting an hour later the past couple years as things now run further into the day which gives less time in the afternoon to do other things over weekends.

        1. @stefmeister I couldn’t agree more. I think 16/17 races is the perfect amount because it allows variety in the calendar and stops the feeling of overkill that we get now. A shorter championship is also more likely to go down to the final race, which we all love.

          Given that there are now so many races and only so many slots, the obvious solution is to only go to certain tracks every year (e.g. monza, Monaco, Silverstone and spa, suzuka) and everything else rotates year on year. The venture capitalists running the sport will just squeeze it to death if they’re not stopped, but the FIA or the teams have to grasp that less really is more in this case.

    4. I old is an awful circuit that leads to very processional racing as there are pretty much no overtaking opportunities on the track. There are much better examples of circuits that support better racing in other classic tracks.

      1. Imola. Apologies, Autocorrect!

  2. At least Mazepin wasn’t the one ending a practice session this time.

  3. Encouraging to see the Williams further up the sheets, even if this is just practice. Latifi has been ahead of Russell in both sessions, I wonder if he can keep that momentum going into Saturday.

    1. This was one of the circuits where he was fairly competitive last year too. We know that a couple of drivers should be faster in qualifying as they didn’t set a representative lap time, but he may be able to put in a respectable performance.

      1. Hoping for both cars in Q2. For Williams that would be a real result, and could actually be feasible at this track.

  4. I know this might be a pretty bold prediction, but from what I’ve seen in practice today I expect Ferrari to challenge for the podium on Sunday.
    Here is why: The car was quick from the very beginning (Sainz being fastest on the Hards in FP1), it’s competitive in every sector (S1 is probably their weakest, while their S2- and S3-times look seriously fast), Leclerc set the fastest time on Softs (although cancelled for exceeding track limits at Turn 9) and was matching the Mercs (even slightly quicker sometimes) on long run pace on the same tyres.

    Please, Ferrari! Don’t give us false hope, make it real this time!

    1. Leclerc was pushing very hard though – he said so on the radio after he crashed – so it may be that some of those around him have more performance left.

      1. Yes, anon. I am aware of that and called it a ‘pretty bold’ prediction. The question is how much margin the Mercs & RBs have, compared to the Ferrari.

  5. mercs have a lot more confidence in their rear ends staying put this time out. looks planted already

  6. It looks like Mercedes have the same problem as in 2017 with the softest compounds. Who knows… we are yet to see…

  7. All these articles saying Red Bull has the best car and Mercedes are the underdogs seem increasingly silly: another Mercedes 1-2…

    1. True. It’s ridiculous. Even 3/4 of the guys here at RACEFANS say the same thing. Mercedes might be the underdogs, but the gap is like 0.01sec. RBR already have tech problems. Anyway, a little too early, we need at least 3-4 races to make a more realistic evaluation of what’s going on.

      1. In both sessions, Max was on course to set faster times – he had to back off in the first session due to Mazepin causing that red flag, and in the second he damaged his driveshaft, possibly due to driver error.

        Without those disruptions, we would have seen Max likely lead both sessions, and by a reasonable margin too – he was already several tenths up in just two sectors in both cases.

        1. anon Yeah Max certainly seems comfortable with how the car feels and all. What do you have to substantiate your claim that the driveshaft failure was ‘possibly due to driver error’?

          1. @robbie it was reported that Max had been pushing relatively hard on that lap and he’d ended up going wider than his normal line in the corners just before his driveshaft failed, which would likely have resulted in greater shock loading of his transmission system from the kerbs.

            That is why I said it possibly was due to an error on Max’s part since, if the two are indeed linked, then it would have been linked to Max making a slight error and going off the normal racing line.

            I’m not asserting that it’s definite, as I accept that it could also be that Max ran wide as an issue was developing with the driveshaft or that the failure was purely coincidental, and he’d have been far from the only one to make that type of error (just that others may have been lucky to get away with it or maybe caused non-critical damage, such as causing a bit of rear floor damage if they kicked up some debris). Now, do you have a problem with that?

          2. anon So touchy. Sorry I asked. Upon googling I saw nothing that said Max may have broken it himself through a driver error. You are the only one that seems to be suggesting it, so I asked you a question. You were fine and I accepted what you were saying until your last childish sentence blew it.

          3. Yes, as someone who certainly doesn’t often defend robbie, we’re very opposite when it comes to our position about schumacher especially, I don’t see how that question was anything bad to ask, he was curious and asked why you thought it was a driver error, and you explained it well, so I don’t see why the last annoyed question.

            In fact, was useful to know for me too.

        2. @anon I think the other bit of evidence is Mercedes doing similar lap times on softs and mediums, as in Bahrain, suggesting Red Bull may still be ahead on one lap pace (qualifying). I expect Max to be ahead again, comfortably, tomorrow.

  8. petebaldwin (@)
    16th April 2021, 17:29

    He was embarrassingly slow but congratulations to Mazepin for completing a session without a spin! Progress.

  9. Another tech issue for Red Bull. Brakes and diff for Bahrain, drive shaft now. The writing is really on the wall already.

    Losing most of FP2 is surely going to affect the rest of the weekend.

    1. @balue Meh, big Max fan and I’m not worried. I wonder if these little nagging things would have been sussed out had they had the usual second three day pre-season test session. Might be just a symptom of that. So to say the writing is on the wall already after one race? Nah. It takes a season before they hand out the big trophies.

    2. There’s certainly a reason to be worried though, only a few hours remaining to see how the values are when it matters, but there’s at least doubt about red bull being still ahead, and like always they’re coming up short in reliability, perez didn’t end up behind bottas due to his performance, he’d have been a big challenge for him, he ended up behind cause he had to start last, which happened due to another mechanical issue.

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