Formula 1 world championship leader Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets ahead of Max Verstappen in the one and only practice session for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

On F1’s first visit to Imola since the 2006 San Marino Grand Prix 14 years ago, Hamilton was the only driver to dip under the 1m15’ bracket by posting a 1m14.726s on the Soft-tyre qualifying simulation runs.

The Mercedes driver ended up 0.297s faster than Red Bull’s Verstappen, who had led the way for much of the sole 90-minute practice session ahead of qualifying as part of a condensed weekend of running with a two-day format at Imola.

Valtteri Bottas, who trails Hamilton by 77 points heading into the final five rounds of the season, was nearly half a second adrift of his Mercedes teammate in third.

AlphaTauri led the midfield battle in practice as in the in-form Pierre Gasly, who was confirmed as staying at the Faenza outfit for next season last week, set the fourth-fastest time to end up less than a second off Hamilton’s benchmark.

Charles Leclerc was an impressive fifth for Ferrari, ahead of Renault duo Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, who were line-a-stern in P6 and P7 as Ricciardo edged out his teammate by just over a tenth.

Daniil Kvyat, whose future in F1 remains uncertain, popped his AlphaTauri inside the top-10 with a strong lap for eighth, ahead of Alex Albon, who was over a second slower than teammate Verstappen as he continues to fight for his Red Bull seat for 2021.

10th place went the way of Lance Stroll, with Racing Point teammate Sergio Perez just 0.058s further back in P11, ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who will replace the Mexican at the Silverstone-based team next season.

Romain Grosjean was 13th for Haas, ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Lando Norris, who surged up to fifth late on during a Soft tyre run, only to see his lap time deleted for track limits.

The only driver in the current field to have raced at Imola in F1 before, Kimi Raikkonen, was 17th in his Alfa Romeo, with George Russell, Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi completing the practice order.




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