Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Imola, 2022

Leclerc leads one-two for flying Ferraris in wet first practice at Imola

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix first practice

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Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari one-two at the top of the times in a wet first practice session in Imola ahead of Friday evening’s qualifying session.

The leading Ferrari was almost a second and a half faster than Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, with the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher three seconds off Leclerc’s pace in fourth and fifth.

After Formula 3’s first practice session was repeatedly disrupted by red flag stoppages in the rain and the Formula 2 practice session never started due to the wet conditions, the track was still soaked by the time Formula 1 cars ventured out onto the Imola circuit for the first time. But with no rain falling by the team the green light appeared at the end of the pit lane, teams did not hesitate to take to the treacherous track on full wet tyres.

As expected, the slippery surface offered minimal grip. Nicholas Latifi ran off the track at the Tosa corner, but managed to re-join the track with minimal damage. Leclerc spun twice in the first 20 minutes of the session, first after clattering the kerbs at the Variante Alta chicane and later while exiting Acque Minerali.

The tricky downhill braking zone for the first Rivazza proved a danger zone for many drivers. Sebastian Vettel almost ran off the circuit through the first left-hander, before Lando Norris slipped off into the gravel, bailing out back into the pit lane after rejoining the circuit. Esteban Ocon had a high-speed off into the Rivazza, but fortunately managed to avoid getting beached into the gravel trap.

Just before half way through the session, Vettel became the first driver to take to the track on intermediates, setting a lap time that was just over six tenths slower than Sergio Perez’s overall best time set on full wets.

As the session continued, it became clear the track offered more lap time for those on intermediate tyres. Despite having a third spin of the session exiting the Tamburello chicane, Leclerc went fastest of all and continued to go quicker lap after lap, as team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr improved to sit second in the times.

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With five minutes to go in the session, Norris spun his McLaren into the gravel at Acque Minerali, bringing out the red flags. However, Norris was able to reverse out of the gravel trap and recover back to the pits, allowing the session to resume with over three minutes remaining, with most of the field taking advantage to get in some final few laps.

None of the drivers at the top of the times improved their times before the chequered flag, leaving Leclerc fastest of all when the chequered flag flew at the end of the session. Sainz was second quickest, with Max Verstappen was almost a second-and-a-half adrift of the Ferrari in third.

In fourth and fifth, a further 1.5s slower than Verstappen, were the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher, with Perez sixth in the second Red Bull.

As the session concluded, Valtteri Bottas spun his Alfa Romeo at Acque Minerale, skidding into the gravel trap and making the slightest of contact with the outer tyre barrier. While Bottas attempted to reverse out of the gravel much as Norris had successfully managed earlier, he was not able to do so and was forced to abandon the car.

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix first practice result

Position Number Driver Team Model Time Gap Laps
1 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1-75 1’29.402 24
2 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari F1-75 1’30.279 0.877 25
3 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull RB18 1’30.867 1.465 20
4 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari VF-22 1’32.439 3.037 23
5 47 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari VF-22 1’32.988 3.586 22
6 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull RB18 1’33.012 3.610 17
7 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault A522 1’33.160 3.758 13
8 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR22 1’33.365 3.963 22
9 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Red Bull AT03 1’33.611 4.209 18
10 63 George Russell Mercedes W13 1’34.262 4.860 21
11 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari C42 1’34.615 5.213 19
12 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Red Bull AT03 1’35.104 5.702 19
13 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault A522 1’35.420 6.018 14
14 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes MCL36 1’35.502 6.100 12
15 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes MCL36 1’35.625 6.223 14
16 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR22 1’36.033 6.631 22
17 23 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes FW44 1’36.461 7.059 16
18 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13 1’36.464 7.062 17
19 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo-Ferrari C42 1’37.450 8.048 21
20 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes FW44 1’39.698 10.296 14

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2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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17 comments on “Leclerc leads one-two for flying Ferraris in wet first practice at Imola”

  1. A surprisingly exciting FP, although the red was unnecessarily hasty.

  2. Ferrari and Mercedes swapped performance with now Mercedes is doing a Ferrari 2020, and Hamilton is performing like Vettel’s 2020.

    1. Well, a free practice isn’t everything, vettel 2020 was terrible, you can say maybe hamilton is doing a vettel 2019, which still brought a similar amount of points as leclerc.

    2. Well, it definitely looks a bit like 2020 out there, with one team way out in front, Max Verstappen a bit behind, and then a huge gulf to the rest.

  3. Wet conditions likely to accentuate the gap between the stable cars with high downforce (RBs and Ferraris) and everyone else. The Mercs look a complete handful in the dry.

  4. I think the time when rain was concidered to be the great equalizer are long gone. If anything it’s the contrary. If your car is working your advantage will be multiplied and if you have a dog of a car you can be the best driver in the world and you’ll still look mediocre. Parc fermé rules make matters worse too.
    The only true comparison is your teammate.

    1. That’s what I’ve seen in some cases, example monza 2017 qualifying, ok that hamilton was often good in the wet, but even bottas was flying on the wet with that mercedes.

      Then again we’ve recently seen some cases where the rain can change the running order, example mercedes in trouble in turkey 2020 quali, with red bull working better and force india even better.

    2. I’m not so sure on this @roadrunner. As we’re so early in the development cycle of a new era of cars, issues like porpoising etc are going to exacerbate issues much more so than in a “normal” season. For sure drivers are more likely to be caught out by car setup issues at the moment, but I don’t think it’ll be a continual problem.

    3. @roadrunner
      In fully wet conditions yes, I’d agree. However, in mixed wet/dry conditions the driver can definitely make the difference. Take Nico Hülkenberg at the 2012 Brazilian GP for example, who was leading the race in a midfield car and could’ve won it had he not spun and then later hit the back of Hamilton’s McLaren.

      Also with these new cars your pace in the wet depends on how you generate lap time. If you have an efficient floor and good top speed, like the RB does, wet conditions are going to hurt you more. You can’t run the car as low to the ground as you would on a dry circuit and the speeds are generally lower.

  5. Gonna be some wild setups and undriveable cars if it dries up later, parc fermé still apples and teams are stuck with their wet settings. Can they reduce ride height? Does porpoising only occur – ironically – when it’s dry

  6. Applies, not apples. Never go commenting when you’re hungry.

  7. Will be interesting, still saw a lot of porpoising on the Mercs, almost all cars tiptoeing round.

    1. The only inter lap the Merc did broke the floor stay, and both cars are having to lift on the straight as the porpoising is so bad. But even with the porpoising on the Ferrari they are still miles ahead of the rest.

  8. Latifi at 111% 😬. Not very good, again.

  9. Super duper results! And HAAS up high again… upseting the “leaders” with their car. As vehiculated since the day 1 of the season, if their usual setup indeed means more downforce than the rest top contenders, Ferrari should be golden in wet conditions.

  10. Very strong pace from the Ferraris, especially on the Inters. Verstappen could only match them in S1, but was then 0.5 slower in S2 and 0.7 in S3. Maybe the wet conditions are hurting RB more than Ferrari, because they have to increase the ride height more. RB is usually able to run the car closer to the ground than Mercedes or Ferrari, because they have no issues with porpoising and thus get the full benefit of the ground effect.
    Or RB were just going for a fully dry set up, who knows?!

  11. I’m just not enjoying watching these cars. To me, look cumbersome and slow, they look heavy.
    And thanks to F1 refusing to give the regs a proper chance by turning DRS off, the “battles” are all drive bys.
    So the cars look dull and the racing isn’t really any better for a TV viewer.

    I really hope that it gets better as the cars mature.

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