The Friday in F1 Imola GP was hectic considering the updates from the teams in a ‘normal’ weekend, as Red Bull struggled to show performance.

Getting back to a ‘normal’ Friday in F1 Imola GP was paramount for the teams and the drivers in Emilia Romagna. After two weekends of sprint races, they wanted to get through a clean programme and trial their updates that most brought about.

It is still early days on that front but the order was quite shaken-up in F1 Imola GP. For starters, Red Bull were out of the Top 3 in both FP1 and FP2 where Max Verstappen struggled all-through and even had multiple gravel moments.

He was not at all comfortable with the car in the middle sector and concedes that Red Bull has a big job at hand to solve overnight, with Sergio Perez also not showing the performance. Their downer gave chance for other to shine around them.

Ferrari with their massively updated machine were on top with Charles Leclerc topping both FP1 and FP2 sessions, while Carlos Sainz was not too far behind either. Both were happy and are hopeful that they can continue with the momentum when it matters.

Also in the jolly list were McLaren and Mercedes. Even though Lando Norris didn’t get a lap on the soft compound in FP2, the Brit termed it as a reasonable day overall, whereas teammate Oscar Piastri seemed more positive about their chances.

Even the Mercedes camp were happy with their updates as both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell looked comfortable and in the mix. The former apologised for the run-in with Verstappen, but the Dutchman was too occupied with his own issues.

The one team that didn’t look outright on pace was Aston Martin. Lance Stroll was out of the Top 10 in both the sessions, and even though Fernando Alonso made it in, they didn’t set the timing sheet alive. But they seemed positive with the data collection.

Verstappen: “A difficult day. It was just difficult to get a good balance, and I was just not really feeling comfortable in the car. Moving around a lot, it’s very easy to lose the car, so there are a few things that we have to look at because today was just bad, just not comfortable. Also the long run was really bad, so definitely a few things that we have to improve if we want to be competitive tomorrow. I guess it can’t be worse than what we had today! We’ll look at a few things that we can do better for tomorrow, but it looks a bit like the others took a bit of a step forward, and from our side just a bad day. As for run-in with Lewis, it’s not the first time. You try to of course always stay calm about it, but it happened again. I also don’t really want to talk about it too much because that’s not our issue. Today we were just severely off pace, that we need to fix.”

Leclerc: “For now, everything went quite smoothly. The feeling with the car is quite good, the upgrades on the car are working as expected which also is a good step. And yeah, it’s been a very smooth day so it is great, and being at home is always a special feeling for Ferrari, being here and having so much support all over the track means so much for all of us. It will be great if the weekend continues in that direction. However, tomorrow the conditions will change massively. The wind will completely turn around, which will have a big effect on all the cars, and there we have to be the best at anticipating those changes. We need to keep our feet on the ground, because tomorrow is going to be big changes with the track conditions. Track position here is absolutely everything, so qualifying will be super important and it will be important for us to do the job in qualifying. So there is still a lot of work for to do, and we will give it our all to have a great qualifying tomorrow.”

Norris: “I think on the whole a pretty reasonable day. A little bit of a messy FP1, we had the rakes on the car as we were doing some aero testing, then we had a couple of issues with the car after that, so not the most clean and straightforward day. But I think we made a really good step from FP1 into FP2. Once I got comfortable, I felt really good out there. I think we are in a good position… [it was] tricky, [as] it was quite gusty, and then it calmed down a little bit, but on the whole a good start to the weekend. Right now, I’m not sure. We need to look at the data and compare ourselves to others. We need to compare ourselves to Red Bull, to Ferrari, to Mercedes, who seem also pretty quick. We’ll just try and understand a little bit where we stand relative to them. We are putting little bits here and there, I think we seem relatively quick. I didn’t get my lap in at the end, but we are in a good position. I don’t think we need to change very much, just small little tweaks and bringing it all together, simple as that.”

Hamilton: “It’s been a good start to the weekend. We had a productive day and were able to run all three compounds. The balance of the car felt good, and I had a positive feeling out there. Several other teams look quick, in particular McLaren and Ferrari, but we’re a lot closer than we have been so far this season. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves though so let’s see how tomorrow goes. I am really grateful to everyone back at the factory for working so hard to bring these updates. We are seeing improvements in the car and our performance on track. As for the Max moment, I was on a cool-down lap. I thought I was well clear, would’ve been well clear, but all of a sudden he was right on me. Ultimately it was my mistake and I tried to apologise, but he was too frustrated.”

Alonso: “It was nice to get back to a more traditional Friday schedule after a couple of Sprint weekends, allowing us to get lots of laps in as we assess the updates we’ve brought this weekend. We’ve gathered lots of data and now we’ll analyse overnight the impact the updates have had on the car. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we know traffic will be challenging in Qualifying so we’ll need to find gaps out on track and take advantage to set ourselves up well for Sunday’s Grand Prix.”

The Top 10 also saw Visa Cash App RB’s Yuki Tsunoda make it in. In fact, the Japanese driver was third in FP2 as he felt good straight up in both the sessions. His teammate Daniel Ricciardo struggled a bit in the corners, but was around the Top 10.

Even Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg made it inside the Top 10 in FP2 after trying out the new package in FP1. It is unclear if he retained the updates or shelved it. Kevin Magnussen reckoned he did well but was surprised to see how close the field was.

He only drove in FP2 after Ferrari reserve Oliver Bearman got his first chance with Haas in FP1 and had a clean run despite his off during F2 practice. The Alpine pair were happy with their run too, but noted about the bumps which made it uncomfortable.

Over at Stake F1 Team, Valtteri Bottas ran smoothly but Zhou Guanyu had balance troubles and expects better performance when he gets the new floor on Saturday. Alexander Albon missed out on FP1 due to a module issue as both the Williams cars had limited running.

Tsunoda: “I’m feeling good. It’s been a very positive and consistent day for us straight from FP1, and I’m excited for the coming days of our home race. Returning to a normal weekend again, I feel more comfortable and less stressed because we know we have time to progress and build up our laps. At the same time, the performance was there straight away. Now we just continue progressing from session to session, put it all together and maximise the car package. So far, top ten is likely but anything can happen and the midfield remains very tight, so we need to stay sharp. We’re obviously aiming for the highest position possible but at the same time, just try to focus and extract the performance of the car.”

Hulkenberg: “This morning we did a bit of rake running to gather aero data to compare the launch car to the current car. In FP2, we went back to the normal program and it all felt okay. It was very windy out there today, so cars were quite difficult to drive because it’s inconsistent in terms of grip, hence making it easy to run off the track a bit. It’s an intense track, pretty fast but also has a great feel to it as well, I’m enjoying it.”

Gasly: “Overall, it has been a productive Practice day in Imola. We tried a few things in the simulator last week in preparation for this race weekend and those tests appear to have worked quite well on track today. We learnt a lot across both sessions and we will work hard overnight to prepare for tomorrow. Generally, the car is starting to feel a bit more comfortable and I was able to get into a consistent window, allowing me to push more and more. I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend and I am hopeful we can continue to make steps in the right direction.”

Albon: “We’re obviously a little behind on track time today after the electrical issue I suffered in FP1. It took a while to find the issue and then fix it, however the team did a great job to get the car back out. It’s a difficult one because the car actually felt amazing out there; I don’t know whether it’s the track or the wind, but I feel like the car is on rails yet I’m P18, so we’ve got some work to do. Despite this, I’m enjoying it and it’s nice to come to a proper track. It’s not going to be easy but I’m happy with our progress so hopefully we can unlock some more.”

Guanyu: “It was good to be back racing in Imola after two years. Today has proven to be more difficult than expected, as the red flag and some changes on the car cost us some time, however, we had a clean session in the afternoon. We tried a few different setups and still have to work on the balance of the car, but I am positive that we can make some progress tomorrow. The track is much bumpier than last time, and there’s quite a bit of changing wind – especially in the last two corners. Tomorrow, my car will be fitted with the new floor, which should give me more load and grip, and – with the team’s work and changes to the car – more confidence.”

Bearman: “I’m really happy with my performance in FP1. The session was a bit shorter because of the red flag but I’m quite happy with how I got up to speed with the car. Driving FP1 in F2 as well really helped me to make that step pretty quickly. I think all the work we’re doing behind the scenes is paying off because already from the early laps I was feeling really comfortable in the car and at home. The long run also went well, and the car feels like a good step compared to last year. I’m proud of the guys, they’re having a great season so far and I can’t wait to jump in again.”

Here’s how FP1 of F1 Imola GP panned out

Here’s how FP2 of F1 Imola GP panned out

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