Valtteri Bottas fronted a Mercedes 1-2 during an eventful first practice session for Formula 1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.
Bottas set a time of 1:16.564s to finish just 0.041s in front of Mercedes team-mate and early championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who had a brief excursion through the gravel at Tamburello, was just 0.058s behind Bottas in a closely-contested session.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fourth, recovering from early technical issues, with Pierre Gasly showing encouraging speed for AlphaTauri in fifth spot.
Carlos Sainz set an identical time to Gasly en route to sixth position. A large gap of over half a second followed to seventh-placed Fernando Alonso.
Lance Stroll was eighth for Aston Martin while Nicholas Latifi displayed uplifting potential for Williams by classifying ninth, as McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10.
TV pictures were affected during the session owing to a technical problem between Formula 1’s broadcast centre in the United Kingdom and Italy.
It meant teams and officials were without some pictures and widespread timing data.
The biggest incident during the session was not caught on the live footage but both Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon stopped on track with damage to their respective cars at the Villeneuve chicane.
It was suggested that the pair tangled on the approach to the complex, causing damage to the rear-left of Perez’s Red Bull, and to the front-right of Ocon’s Alpine.
Perez’s RB16B came to a halt facing the wrong way at the exit of the chicane while Ocon toured to a halt on the entry to Tosa.
Haas’ Nikita Mazepin endured a troublesome debut in Bahrain with two spins in qualifying before he crashed out just three corners into the race.
His woes continued in the hour-long opening practice session at Imola.
Mazepin spun into the gravel exiting Rivazza 2 early on in the session and then came to grief at the same corner just as the chequered flag was flown.
Mazepin made contact with the outside wall, causing damage to the Haas VF-21, which came to a halt just shy of the pit lane entry.
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:16.622||0.058|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jr||Ferrari||1:16.888||0.324|
|8||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:17.489||0.925|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:17.883||1.319|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1:17.984||1.420|
|15||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:18.058||1.494|
|16||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||1:18.228||1.664|