Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Imola, 2021

Bottas leads tight top three as Mazepin’s second spin ends practice early

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix first practice

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Mercedes pair Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton filled the top two positions in first practice for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, but Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was less than a tenth of a second behind.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi was the first driver on track, and the majority of participants followed him out as they sought to make maximum use of the shortened Friday practice period.

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez were among the first to set representative lap times. However they then became the focus of a post-session investigation as both stopped on track with damaged cars, requiring practice to be red-flagged so they could be recovered.

Perez came to a halt with a punctured rear-left tyre while he was on a flying lap. Ocon, who had been running at a slower pace when Perez caught him, had damage to his front-right. While coverage of the incident was limited, the pair appear to have made contact.

The duo weren’t the only drivers to make mistakes. Each of the top three had off-track moments or clouted Imola’s fierce kerbs particularly hard.

For a long time Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jnr who was on top, and he improved on the benchmark he had set when the session restarted. In the final minute he was outdone by first AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, and then the two Mercedes drivers and Verstappen. Bottas ended up fastest by 0.041 seconds over Hamilton, and Verstappen 0.058s behind.

Leclerc went fourth fastest in the second Ferrari, despite not setting a single recorded lap prior to the red flag, with Gasly and Sainz completing the top six.

Haas’s Nikita Mazepin continued his difficult introduction to Formula 1 by bookending the session with a pair of spins. He was unable to recover from the second which occurred just before the pit lane entry and led to light contact with the barrier. The red flags flew a minute before the session was due to end while the Haas was recovered.

Mazepin and team mate Mick Schumacher were several seconds off the pace but ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda who also had an early off-track moment.

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2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix first practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes1’16.56423
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’16.6050.04125
333Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’16.6220.05821
416Charles LeclercFerrari1’16.7960.23213
510Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’16.8880.32421
655Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’16.8880.32426
714Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’17.4570.89323
818Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’17.4890.92519
96Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’17.7391.17524
103Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’17.7691.20523
1163George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’17.8661.30225
127Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’17.8831.31916
134Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’17.9351.37116
145Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’17.9841.42023
1599Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’18.0581.49424
1611Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’18.2281.66415
1731Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’18.3601.79620
189Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’18.8232.25922
1947Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’19.4802.91618
2022Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’19.7813.21711

First practice visual gaps

Valtteri Bottas – 1’16.564

+0.041 Lewis Hamilton – 1’16.605

+0.058 Max Verstappen – 1’16.622

+0.232 Charles Leclerc – 1’16.796

+0.324 Pierre Gasly – 1’16.888

+0.324 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’16.888

+0.893 Fernando Alonso – 1’17.457

+0.925 Lance Stroll – 1’17.489

+1.175 Nicholas Latifi – 1’17.739

+1.205 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’17.769

+1.302 George Russell – 1’17.866

+1.319 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’17.883

+1.371 Lando Norris – 1’17.935

+1.420 Sebastian Vettel – 1’17.984

+1.494 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’18.058

+1.664 Sergio Perez – 1’18.228

+1.796 Esteban Ocon – 1’18.360

+2.259 Nikita Mazepin – 1’18.823

+2.916 Mick Schumacher – 1’19.480

+3.217 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’19.781

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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33 comments on “Bottas leads tight top three as Mazepin’s second spin ends practice early”

  1. A messy session coverage-wise. I hope the power outage that caused these glitches would get fixed by FP2.

    1. Glitches caused by a power outage.

  2. The reason for the technical problems & more limited broadcast during FP1 is that there was a power outage at Biggin Hill so everything that is usually produced off-site won’t be available until they get power back.

    That including the onboard cameras, team radio, telemetry, most of the graphics among a few other systems.

    Everything related to F1TV is also usually produced at Biggin Hill. They are currently relying on a backup distribution to ensure they get the main feed out.

    I’ve seen power outage at the circuit a few times but this is to my knowledge the first time they have lost power at Biggin Hill, Certainly since they started using it for remote operations.

    1. Nice insight, thank you!

  3. I am looking very wrong on Sainz at the moment he looks to have improved massively. Keep Lec more than honest this early is huge for him. And look at Stroll vs Vettel. Am i wrong to now assume Leclerc is perhaps a tiny bit overrated and not in the Ham/Max tier. Sainz as come right into his team and is on his pace.

  4. Very pleased to see Williams in the top ten, although I doubt they will be able to stay there come qualifying. Also glad that Bottas edged out Hamilton and Verstappen, and I still believe he can make this a three-way title fight. Looking good also for Ferrari and Alpha Tauri, roughly what you might expect for Aston Martin, Alpine and Alfa Romeo. Not great for McLaren and Haas, but of course this was only practice 1.

  5. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    16th April 2021, 11:38

    Only thing I can say at this stage is that it looks to be closer between Merc and Redbull. That makes Perez performing well even more crucial and he hasn’t got off to a great start. Hopefully quali will be decided by a tenth and they stalk each other closely on Sunday.

  6. Well well well Mazepin keeps on spinning!

    1. Nikita Massivespin

    2. Isn’t the guy a joke? Him and Mick are probably in the worst car in the grid, and no F1 experience whatsoever. They need to, at least, finish races.

  7. It’s hard to say that I feel sorry for a formula 1 driver. But I can’t help but feel bad for Mick and Nikita. That haas look like a horrible car to drive.

    It’s going to be really hard to look good while driving that.

    1. At least Mick is able to keep the car on track.

  8. Mazepin showing further signs that he will be a meme.

  9. Surely the crash between Perez and Ocon would have a better thing to lead on rather than another Mazepin spin.

    I know he is not well liked and it is difficult to justify his place on talent and/or popularity but this is starting to look a touch vindictive as it just seems that every indiscretion he makes gets reported extensively on here at the expense of something else.

    Not saying he doesn’t deserve the bad press (the groping thing is indefensible) but Haas aren’t going to suddenly drop him as a result of continued poor press coverage.

    1. I’m well over the scrutiny he gets, compared with – let’s say – his own team-mate, who was slower in this session, and made essentially the same driving error as Mazepin at Bahrain, but without the fanfare.
      Still, this site isn’t above crude clickbait. Just the name ‘Mazepin’ evokes passion – no matter what type of passion it is, or how misguided it is.

      There will be a lot more of this. We are only at Practice 1 of Race 2…

    2. Waiting for Perez fanboys to come and defend their man again. I predicted after three races red bull will have to start thinking about cutting his contract short.. one thing that’s clear is how much difference a driver makes.. some of those cars like the pink Mercedes are crazy fast but we don’t realise it because they can only attract mediocre drivers..

  10. I didn’t get round to seeing FP1 but according to BBC’s write up the power outage also led to there being “no radio between pits and car”. If that is indeed the case and, I suspect, is the reason why Perez and Ocon came together, surely that’s a quite considerable safety concern? It’s impossible to stay off the racing line at all times when on a slow lap and there’s only so much a driver can look out for from their limited viewpoint.

    1. Ninjenius Staying off the racing line on a straight line shouldn’t be too much to ask.

      1. @jerejj Indeed, but what about corners and corner approach? You have to cross over the racing line at some point.

        1. Perhaps go faster?

          Bring on the maximum lap time.

    2. someone or something
      16th April 2021, 12:33

      up the power outage also led to there being “no radio between pits and car”.

      I doubt that was the case. They probably only meant the availability of team radio for broadcasting purposes, since a power outage somewhere in the UK shouldn’t have any impact on the ability to transmit radio waves between cars and pits somewhere in Italy.

      Team radio was likely working as usual in Imola, only our ability to eavesdrop on them was affected.

      1. @someone or something

        since a power outage somewhere in the UK shouldn’t have any impact on the ability to transmit radio waves between cars and pits somewhere in Italy.

        Everything goes through the FOM system now, The teams no longer have there own systems on the cars for transmitting radio/telemetry.

        All that data coming from the cars goes through the FOM control box on the cars & is transmitted via the T-cam antenna through the FOM fibre optic network setup around the circuit which is now all run remotely from the UK. You lose that link & you lose all of the data that is usually transmitted through it.
        In the past the full network wouldn’t have gone down like this as the fibre ring was run from the track, However the Covid situation caused them to further reduce staff/equipment at the circuit last year so now most of the systems are been run remotely.

        This was done to not only ensure the FIA & FOM have full access to all of the data but also as it provided teams with full coverage around the circuit as well as cut back on the amount of RF signals required. Previously when everyone was running there own radio/telemetry systems it was harder for the FIA/FOM to access it, Teams would suffer black spots around some tracks that would impact data coverage & radio clarity & you would also suffer from issues with the amount of RF frequencies been used.

        To my knowledge this is the first time that the system has gone down.

        1. someone or something
          16th April 2021, 13:22

          Great insight, thanks!
          But again, I can’t help but think that this setup is inherently flawed, regardless of whether this was the first time this happened or not. I can understand why the FIA wants to intercept all the telemetry. If that data stream is interrupted, it’s an inconvenience at worst.
          If broadcasters can’t access these data, again: a small inconvenience at worst.
          But radio communication – which is directly related to on-track action and highly relevant for safety aspects – being unavailable because some man-in-the-middle’s (no matter how important he is) infrastructure goes belly-up in a faraway land? This I find shocking.

        2. Actually, I like that the data is flowing through the organizers system, and then back to the teams.
          – I found strange that even at cases, where steward decisions were involved, sometimes, I read things like : “the team provided telemetry data”, to prove themselves right. I found that strange, that in a marginal case stewards not had an all inclusive telemetry access to make their decision. It was not how it should look like in the future. They should have all access unconditionally, and in case of privacy breaches, the sinner should be appropriately penalized, with taking into account that such person failed to act decently and properly in an environment what is about dollar billions per year.
          – If the data is not initially sent to the organizers, but to the teams, and then they forward it to the organizers: then there is a possibility of scams, to manipulate the data.

          – The latency is likely a bit high, especially if they really send all data to England as a first step, but according to what I read here, they are doing so. But I guess, they can afford to have access to the world’s fastst telecommounication lines, and practically infinite/sufficinent bandwidth, to send and recieve at so high bandwidth, so much that seeing that figure would surprise us. Considering this, the latency is maybe well within 1 seconds, which not makes too much difference compared to as if it would be 1ms, because, likely the safety features of the car can work autonomously from this commounication system. But at radio commmounication between the drivers and the pit crew, I obviosuly would like to have better latency than cca. 1sec. But I think this connection between Biggin Hill, and the track side, can grant less than 0.5s latency, likely they can afford direct or very good connection to the actual organiser country’s backbone network.
          – There should be a trackside fallback system for outages.

    3. Yeah it was mentioned on Sky that teams didn’t have access to team radio or most of the other data they usually have on the screens on the pit wall.

      I think the only data teams were getting from the cars in FP1 was from the additional sensors & things they are allowed to have on the cars on Friday which are things I don’t think go through the FOM system.

      1. someone or something
        16th April 2021, 12:46

        I have to admit I find this absolutely baffling. Surely, the teams’ on-site access to their own data and communication should be the first priority, assured by infrastructure at the racetrack, and the data flow through the FOM system a distant second? Sounds to me like they got their priorities completely wrong.

        1. See my reply above.

  11. Its not completely fair as chimaera points out, but its still a bit funny :)

    1. @maish

      That is juvenile and goofy. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Too early to say Mercedes 1-2 incoming?

    1. yes, way to early. But at least the low rake fantasy is a complete fake. So no excuses for Mercedes anymore.
      The length they get to create a underdog position is getting ridiculous.

  13. Typo: Drivers more than ten seconds off the pace omitted.

  14. Nikita Multispin

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