Charles Leclerc gives Ferrari hope for home victory in Imola practice

Charles Leclerc provided hope of a Ferrari win on home soil after setting the quickest time in first practice for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Leclerc saw off Mercedes’ George Russell by 0.104 seconds in Imola with Carlos Sainz third in the other Ferrari.

Max Verstappen – a winner of four of the six rounds so far – finished fifth, two spots ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

McLaren’s Lando Norris, who broke his duck at the Miami Grand Prix a fortnight ago, ended the running in eighth.

Hamilton is racing in Italy for the first time since his blockbuster move to Ferrari was announced.

The British driver suffered a dicey moment when he spun off through Acque Minerali after he caught the inside of the kerb and ended up off the track.

Hamilton returned to the pits without any damage to his Mercedes, but ran through the gravel on a second occasion, ending the session four tenths off the pace.

Hamilton was not the only driver who endured a scruffy session, with Verstappen unusually making a number of mistakes, too.

Verstappen had been on course to set the fastest time of the day in his Red Bull, only to lose the rear of his car on entry to the chicane at Turns 14 and 15.

Just moments later, the Dutch driver was on another hot lap before he ran through the sandtrap on the exit of Turn 11. He finished a quarter-of-a-second back.

Ollie Bearman was back in an F1 car since he made his debut as a last-minute stand-in for Sainz in Saudi Arabia in March.

The 19-year-old, who is set to land a full-time drive with Haas next year, was handed a practice outing by the American team, finishing 15th, 1.6 sec behind Leclerc.

Alex Albon signed a new deal to remain with Williams earlier this week, but the London-born Thai completed just eight laps here after he broke down following a mechanical failure.


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