Skip to main content

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc set the fastest time during the opening practice session for Formula 1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

This story is powered by Motorsport Week – for more reports from the world of motorsport, click here.

Formula 1 returned to the historic venue after a year’s absence in 2023, caused by extensive flooding in the region, with warm and sunny conditions prevailing on Friday. Leclerc set a time of 1:16.990s, to finish 0.104s clear of Mercedes’ George Russell, as several front-running teams introduced upgrade packages.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz finished third, ahead of the Red Bull drivers of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, who had a scruffy session. The World Champion had to make an unscheduled diversion to the pit lane after a visor tear-off became lodged in a brake duct.

Verstappen re-emerged on Soft tyres, and was on course to challenge Leclerc’s time, but made a mistake into the Gresini chicane and took to the grass run-off. Verstappen had another crack at a hot lap but went wide into Acque Minerali and endured an excursion through the gravel trap.

RB’s Yuki Tsunoda was an encouraging sixth, at a circuit located just a stone’s throw from its factory at Faenza, while Lewis Hamilton spun exiting Acque Minerali en route to seventh place. McLaren had a relatively low-key session, with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri classifying eighth and ninth respectively, leaving Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso to round out the top 10.

Oliver Bearman returned to Formula 1 action for the first time since his stand-in appearance with Ferrari in Saudi Arabia. Bearman’s outing with Haas was his first of six planned FP1 runs in 2024 as he continues his audition for a 2025 seat. The youngster’s appearance at Imola came after a subdued display during Formula 2 practice, when he crashed out of the session at the Tamburello chicane. But Bearman stayed out of trouble through the Formula 1 session and finished in 15th position.

Williams’ Alex Albon caused the session to be suspended after 20 minutes when his Williams FW46 shut down after he ran over a kerb at Piratella. Albon parked the car on the grass exiting Acque Minerali and the session was halted while his car was retrieved.

Friday’s second one-hour practice session is scheduled for 17:00 local time.