What the teams said – Friday practice in Imola

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01


Ferrari have a big package of upgrades here and had them bolted onto both cars from word go. While both Leclerc and Sainz had their moments in the tricky, windy conditions, both were also able to string together solid laps and certainly looked good on the timing sheets at least, with Leclerc topping the FP1 session. That trend continued in FP2, with again Leclerc finishing P1 and looking pretty comfortable out there. Sainz dropped down the leader board slightly, but should still be in the mix come tomorrow.

Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:16.990, P1; FP2: 1:15.906, P1

"It has been a positive day overall. Everything went smoothly and we ran all the tests we planned on track. We seem to be pretty competitive for now, however the conditions will change quite a bit tomorrow, especially in terms of the wind, so we will have to anticipate that.

"The updates seem to be working as expected, which is another positive. It was great to see so many red flags in the grandstands!"

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:17.120, P3; FP2: 1:16.423, P6

"A good Friday for the team. We had a strong FP1 and in FP2 we made some changes that seem to go in the right direction and I was reasonably happy with the car. I didn't put together a clean lap with the Soft but I’m confident we are in a good place.

"After two Sprint weekends it was good to have time to test and try different approaches on the car, especially having a new package here. There's still a bit of work to do before qualifying but I’m already looking forward to tomorrow."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)


Norris had a few complaints in FP1 – mostly about his radio and telemetry, which seemed to stop working at one point. That aside, he had aero rakes bolted onto his car as the team switched into data gathering mode. He was running flow-vis in FP2, but looked startlingly quick on his hot lap until he ran wide and aborted. Thus, his standing on the timing sheet isn’t fully representative of the McLaren’s pace here. Piastri’s P2 though, that looks to be on merit which means McLaren should be right up there in qualifying.

Lando Norris – FP1: 1:17.602, P8; FP2: 1:16.980, P12

“It’s been a reasonable day, if a little bit disrupted in places. We had a test programme with some things to try after our upgrades in Miami, which was important to fit in. But at the same time, we had to deal with a couple of little issues here and there which made completing our plan a little bit more tricky than we were hoping for. However, the car felt good, I think we made some good improvements through the day and I was happy with that. Another few into tomorrow and I think we can have a good day.”

Oscar Piastri - FP1: 1:17.807, P9; FP2: 1:16.098, P2

“Friday done. I think it's been one of our better Fridays and we seem to be in a pretty good place. It’s very tight out there so we’ll see what we can find for tomorrow, but it’s been an encouraging day. I’ve felt pretty comfy from the first lap this morning, so I’m excited for tomorrow. The team have done a good job with getting the remaining upgrades on my car, so thank you to them.”

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“Overall, a productive day without major issues on either car, with the exception of a small electronic glitch on Lando’s car which was checked and resolved. Otherwise, we were able to go through our programme, which included investigating the package that we introduced in Miami during FP1. Due to the upgrades being introduced at a Sprint event, we didn’t have sufficient time to do all the procedures and driving that is required to monitor the aerodynamic upgrades at the last event. The good news is that all seemed to go according to expectation and the drivers could work through the set-up and better understand the tyres. While we have some opportunities to improve, and some other cars look pretty quick, both Lando and Oscar seem happy that we are in a decent position for the remainder of the weekend.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)


Hamilton struggled in FP1, spinning off onto the grass and finding his W15 a handful. Russell fared much better, topping the timing sheets for much of the session and winding up just a tenth off the lead Ferrari. Roll on FP2, and this time Hamilton looked the quicker of the duo. But he did have some problems with traffic, earning the wrath of both Alonso and Verstappen at various points. With a heavily upgraded car, the true performance of the W15 will only be revealed come qualifying, but it is so far so good.

Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:17.408, P7; FP2: 1:16.297, P4

"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."

George Russell - FP1: 1:17.094, P2; FP2: 1:16.311, P5

"The car was feeling great today and both Lewis and I were happy behind-the-wheel. We looked reasonably competitive and slightly closer to the front of the field than we looked in Miami. Come Qualifying tomorrow we will find out exactly where we stand in the pecking order. McLaren looked very strong along with Ferrari but hopefully we can find a bit more speed and get closer to them. As always, it will be fine margins.

"The team has done a great job to bring the updates to the car so quickly. It definitely feels like a step forward at this point. It’s great to see the motivation within the team despite having a few tough races recently."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"We've had a productive day today. The car has been working well across the two sessions and we have been able to improve on the balance over the course of the day. The updates we have here all seem to be doing what we expect, which is encouraging, but the experience of the last few races has taught us that we have a fair size gap to close. We are hoping to close that gap progressively with developments over the next few events. There's still plenty that we can work on for both single lap and long run performance in the meantime. The gaps ahead aren't that big so we'll be looking hard to find a bit of additional speed overnight."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Red Bull

Red Bull had a messy first session, with Verstappen in particular struggling with his RB20. It was the middle sector that was catching him out, the Dutchman running wide on more than one occasion. The second hour of practice didn’t see much improvement for Verstappen either, as he ran through the gravel again, amidst many complaints on the radio about his car’s handling. As for Perez, he tangled with Leclerc at one point in FP2 but other than that, had a much calmer day than his team mate.

Max Verstappen – FP1: 1:17.240, P5; FP2: 1:16.447, P7

“It was a difficult day today. It was tricky to get a good balance and we were not really feeling comfortable within the car. It was moving around a lot and was very easy to lose the car at some points on the track. There are a few things we have to look at after today as our performance wasn’t as good as expected and we were not comfortable. We also struggled on the long runs, so there are definitely a few things to improve on if we are going to be competitive in qualifying. Today we were just off the pace, however this is still the practice session so we will look at what we can do ahead of tomorrow and see how the weekend goes."

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:17.233, P4; FP2: 1:16.552, P8

“Imola is a tricky circuit and an old-school track but it’s important to keep our head down. The conditions were tricky at times today with the wind, and we have some work to do to make sure we are able to take the maximum out of the car moving forwards but hopefully we will be in a stronger position tomorrow. Qualifying will be really important so hopefully we will have good luck tomorrow, but I believe we are in the fight and in the mix this weekend."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 runs wide during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Aston Martin used FP1 to benchmark their upgrade package, with Alonso running the car with all the new bits attached and Stroll the older spec. Roll on FP2 and Alonso was left frustrated by his former team mate Hamilton, whom he found dawdling on the racing line. That aside it was a quiet but productive day for the team in green, with plenty of laps on all three tyre compounds and hopefully plenty of data for tomorrow.

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Fernando Alonso – FP1: 1:17.867, P10; FP2: 1:16.838, P10

"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."

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:18.072, P12; FP2: 1:16.991, P13

"I always enjoy coming back to Imola, it's a fun track to drive with a lot of history.

"Today was productive as we applied our updates to the car. We tested a lot of different things as we assessed the updates and we've gathered lots of data that we'll study overnight.

"I'm looking forward to Qualifying tomorrow. The field is closely packed together but with a strong performance we can give ourselves a good starting position for the Grand Prix."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Lance Stroll of Canada driving the (18) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes in the Pitlane during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Tsunoda had the first big moment of the day, dipping a wheel in the gravel and coming oh so close to losing it. Riccardo wasn’t immune to the tricky nature of this circuit either, as he ran wide through the gravel himself. But on the timing sheets, it was the Japanese racer who had the edge over his Australian team mate in both sessions. Tsunoda’s P3 in FP2 was particularly eye-catching, although he did also have to go and see the stewards after doing a practice start in the wrong place.

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:18.142, P13; FP2: 1:16.967, P11

“I’m glad to get back to the normal format of the weekend. On this first day, compared to other times when I finished P11 and I felt the lap was a good one, this time, it didn’t really feel right. I’m still trying to find lap time around here; I struggled in a few corners and certainly, there are a few things in the setup that we’re trying to improve. We’ll do a few more tweaks tonight, and I feel like another practice tomorrow will be good just to make some setup changes to improve in a few areas that I know we can. I’m still positive as I think we’re looking all right, which Yuki showed by having a good day with a great lap in FP2. Also, who knows what everyone else will do but the aim is to be a strong Q3 car.”

Yuki Tsunoda - FP1: 1:17.388, P6; FP2: 1:16.286, P3

“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.”

Alan Permane, Racing Director

“It’s been a little bit of a mixed day for us. Starting with Yuki, he was happy with his car from the very first lap of the day and has really built on that and his confidence. We ran all three tyre compounds today and he set his fastest lap on the softs midway through FP2 and was generally happy with the car. As always, there are some little things to look at tonight, to tweak and improve even more for FP3 and qualifying tomorrow. Daniel on the other hand wasn’t that happy and complained about oversteering in the first laps of the morning. That’s been improved and he’s generally getting happier with the car. There’s still work to do, but we’ll analyse things tonight and get him up and closer to the front of the grid, and with that, we can aim to get both cars into Q3 tomorrow afternoon.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Bearman made his 2024 Haas FP1 bow in Imola, fresh from crashing in F2 earlier on. To Magnussen’s relief he managed to keep his practice session clean and tidy, while Hulkenberg was running a different programme to his team mate and thus couldn’t be used to compare times. Magnussen returned to the cockpit in FP2, but he couldn’t quite match his team mate for times, with Hulkenberg once again impressing with his one-lap pace and winding up in the top 10.

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Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:21.059, P20; FP2: 1:16.826, P9

“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.”

Oliver Bearman – FP1: 1:18.667, P15

“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.”

Kevin Magnussen – FP2: 1:17.129, P17

“It’s a great track to drive, so it’s a pleasure to get in the car. It’s not an easy track to just jump in and be on it, but I wasn’t that far off. It’s super tight here, even tighter than usual, the midfield is crazy. I’m three or four tenths off Red Bull and I’m P17, so that tells you how close it is. You’re finding more and more time every lap and it’s probably the closest circuit to a street track that isn’t a street track because it’s so rough and raw, which I really enjoy.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal

“We had Ollie drive FP1 in place of Kevin and as he’s done before, he did a very good job. The first run we used to get him familiarized to the car, and he had a decent run on the soft tire, high fuel and did well on tire management as well, so that was another really good job. In FP1, Nico had a bit of car trouble, but we largely used Nico’s car to gather data on this latest package, so it wasn’t really a performing session for him.

“In FP2, Kevin hopped back into the car, and I think it’s pretty clear in a few corners, we are really struggling so we’re going to look at set-up changes for tomorrow. Other than that, on the lower cornering-speed corners, our performance is decent. On high-fuel, I think our limitations are pretty clear so we’ll work on that tonight. FP2 was already definitely one step better than FP1 though, so we’ll look at what changes we can make overnight to make it better tomorrow.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by James Sutton - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Both Ocon and Gasly spent the start of the day complaining about their car, which seemed to be bottoming out over every bump on the track. Ocon was also struggling with understeer in FP1, and neither drvier seemed fully happy with their set-up out the box. That trend continued in FP2, as they started to slide backwards in the pecking order. Gasly went for a spin for good measure, with the wind causing some havoc out there for all the drivers.

__Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:18.612, P14; FP2: 1:17.008, P14 __

“It is great to be back driving in Imola and seeing the fans in the grandstands after a year without a race here. It was also good to have more running today and time on track with two full Practice sessions. We learnt quite a lot over the two sessions and managed to improve the car quite well from Free Practice 1 to Free Practice 2. One area we need to focus on is how much the car is bouncing, which seems to be exaggerated by the surface at this track. It is very bumpy and has changed a lot since we last came here. We need to evaluate the set-up and see what steps we can take overnight to limit the bouncing and improve the performance for Qualifying tomorrow.”

__Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:17.905, P11; FP2: 1:17.064, P15 __

“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.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine F1 A524 Renault in the Pitlane during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Kick Sauber

The Kick Sauber drivers kept a low profile in FP1, completing plenty of laps without too many dramas. That continued into the second session, although Zhou was left frustrated with traffic at various points. Some of their upgrades won’t be seen in action until Sunday’s race, with the focus on sorting their pit stop issues, but they do have a few small parts bolted onto the cars.

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:18.827, P16; FP2: 1:17.088, P16

“It was quite windy out there, and bumpy as well – that is pretty much today in a nutshell. Still, it’s great to be back racing on this track. Given the tricky conditions, we had to make some compromises in terms of setup, and only partly began evaluating the new bits on our car, which will be the main task for FP3 tomorrow morning. We expect slightly different weather conditions tomorrow, which should be closer to what we’re going to have in Qualifying and during the race. There is some work to do overnight, but I’m confident we’ll be able to extract more performance from our car and come prepared ahead of Qualifying.”

__Zhou Guanyu - FP1: 1:19.129, P17; FP2: 1:17.606, P19 __

“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.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Kick Sauber C44 Ferrari makes a pitstop during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)


Albon’s car switched off after he took too much kerb in FP1, the Thai driver having to park up on the grass and sit out over half the session. Williams weren’t able to recover the car until after the chequered flag, so didn’t have as much time as they would have liked to analyse the situation. As such, neither car came straight out at the start of FP2. Both missed about 20 minutes of action and found themselves out of step with the rest of the field which didn’t help, thus their true pace is a bit of an unknown heading into tomorrow.

Alex Albon - FP1: 1:20.050, P19; FP2: 1:17.135, P18

"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."

Logan Sargeant - FP1: 1:19.901, P18; FP2: 1:17.848, P20

"For sure FP2 was quite heavily compromised; we only got a couple of laps on low fuel, on which we had a little trouble getting the tyre working, so that’s the main topic to focus on. The balance of the car is in a good place but we’re not getting everything working as it should around it, so we need to figure that out. I’m really enjoying the track, it’s really cool and it’s on the edge. Tomorrow will be tricky, but we’ll do our best to get everything out of it."

Sven Smeets, Sporting Director

"The day didn’t start well with Alex stopping early in FP1 and missing valuable track time. The team did a great job to get the car ready again, but we only managed to finish a compromised runplan with Alex. Unfortunately Logan also lost a lot of running time in FP2 and only had 1 lap on the Soft tyre. We have a lot of fine tuning to do before Qualifying tomorrow but both drivers are confident that we will have a competitive package to start Qualifying. There is still a small chance for some showers during the race so Sunday could become a day with lots of opportunities."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Simone Berra, Chief Engineer

“With five minutes of track time lost through the only red flag of the day, that left 115 action packed minutes at Imola on one of the truly classic tracks on the calendar. We brought our three softest compounds here, based on an assessment of what we saw in the race in 2022, when the C2 was hardly used, because we believe this choice could give the teams a wider range of strategy options, even if this race usually entails just a single pit stop.

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"Predictably, especially after yesterday’s heavy rain, in the first session, the track was still quite “green” and the grip level from the asphalt rapidly increased as the cars did more and more laps. This rapid track evolution continued in the second session, although less so. The wind caused some disturbance, especially in FP1 with temperatures remaining reasonably stable around 27/28 °C for the ambient, while the track went from an average of 50 °C in the first session to 39 °C in the second, conditions which we could see in Sunday’s race.

"The Medium and Hard tyres proved very competitive in terms of performance over a long run, while the Soft, especially in very high temperatures, could turn out to be quite tricky to manage over a large number of laps. The performance difference over a lap between each of the compounds is around half a second. From what we could see, some teams have not yet found the best way to get the most out of the C5 on a flying lap, while the C4 suffered with a very small amount of graining on the right side, especially the front tyre.”


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