Emilia Romagna GP FP1: A promising start for Ferrari

Emilia Romagna GP FP1: A promising start for Ferrari

Emilia Romagna GP FP1: A promising start for Ferrari

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc topped the first practice session for the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in the heavily upgraded SF-24.

It was an encourage sign for the Scuderia as it seems for now that the new upgrade package they brought to their SF-24 for Imola is working well out of the box.

George Russell was second fastest in the Mercedes, a result one should be wary of given the fluctuations of form the Mercedes have been having recently.

Carlos Sainz was third fastest in the other Ferrari, 0.130s off the pace of his teammate.

Red Bull did not have the start they wanted with Triple Formula 1 Champion Max Verstappen struggling with his RB20, especially in the middle sector were he had several off moments. He was fifth fastest behind teammate Sergio Perez who was fourth in the sister car.

McLaren had a low key session, Lando Norris suffering from car trouble early on, and managing just 17 laps and finishing eighth fastest.

Overall it was quite a messing session with many drivers having off moments as they went through the laps trying to get their cars set up for the weekend ahead.

Buildup towards FP1

F1 returns this weekend to Imola for the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, after missing the 2023 event due to the tragic floods that hit the northern Italian region.

This visit marks the 30th anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s and Roland Ratzenberger’s deaths at the venue, with the sport and it’s drivers coming together to pay tribute to these two drivers who lost their lives on one of the most tragic weekends in the history of the sport back in 1994.

Norris arrives to Imola this weekend a grand prix winner, while Verstappen will be definitely looking to strike back after an underwhelming Miami, but the Dutchman may have a bigger challenge this weekend as Ferrari have brought a heavily upgraded SF-24 .

Ferrari have shaken down their upgrades at Fiorano ahead of Imola on a filming day with the Red single seater featuring new Red Bull-like sidepods, a new engine cover, new front wing, new ring wing, new floor edge and a new diffuser.

Red Bull themselves brought some upgrades this weekend some track related such as revised rear wheel body work for cooling requirements. They also have a new front wing, floor edge, floor body, and a revised nose.

Mercedes have their second batch of upgrades for their troublesome W15 with a new floor body, floor fences, new rear and beam wings, and revised front brake ducts for better cooling purposes.

McLaren will have the full upgrade on Oscar Piastri’s car this weekend, and have a revise rear wing and beam wing for track specific drag levels.

The team that also has a major package are Aston Martin, the AMR24 featuring a new nose, new front wing, new floor edge, new floor body, new floor fences new diffuser, new engine cover and revise rear suspension.

Williams have a revised floor with lower weight while Alpine have a revised floor edge. Stake Sauber also have a revised floor edge while Haas have revised front wing endplate, revised rear suspension a revised corner with lower winglet layout.

Oliver Bearman will make his return into an F1 car with Haas, but the young Briton has had a challenging start to his weekend with a huge crash in Formula 2 before FP1 started.

FP1 Session highlights

The session started in clear sunny conditions, with track temperature at 43 degrees Celsius with air temperature at 24 degrees.

The drivers were out on a mix of Hard and Medium tyres for the start of the session and soon Pierre Gasly reports a soft brake pedal on his Alpine.

As a reminder, Pirelli have brought their softest range this weekend: C3 (Hard), C4 (Medium) and C5 (Soft).

Soon after Gasly’s complaint, his teammate, Esteban Ocon complained about the ride of his Alpine, he said: “The ride on the straight lines is hitting the plank a lot, like I’m jumping, the car is taking off.”

Almost 15 minutes into the session Yuki Tsunoda had a moment at Rivazza, but managed to save it.

Gasly complains about his car again, this time the ride, as he claims he can’t see where he is going on the straights because of the bouncing. Gasly was not alone as Zhou Guanyu said he was jumping like a kangeroo.

Soon Lewis Hamilton has a moment of his own at Turn 9, going off track and into the gravel.

With 40 minutes remaining on the clock, the first Red Flag of the weekend was out as Alex Albon in the Williams parked his car on the side of the track at Turn 10 (Acque Minerali) with replay showing that his car just lost power.

The session was resumed with 35 minutes of running still available, but it was session over for Albon who has just signed a contract extension with Williams.

Williams reported on Albon’s issue: “Alex’s car shut down after going over a kerb. The cause is currently unknown and will be investigated when the car is back.”

Halfway through the session, Leclerc bolted on the Soft tyres and shoots to the top of the timing screens almost half a second clear from the rest, but soon more Soft tyres get into service, and Sainz goes to the top.

Russell has a moment, hitting the kerb hard, his W15 bouncing and landing on the track, but he managed to keep it under control.

Bearman also soon has a moment on the kerb at Turn 14, while Daniel Ricciardo went deep into the gravel at Rivazza, but manages to find his way back to the track.

Hamilton soon also loses the rear of his Mercedes at Turn 10, sliding across the track and ends up on the grass on the opposite side, but manages to get back going to the pits, tyres ruined.

Sainz in the Ferrari gets it wrong at Variante Alta and ends up short-cutting his way into the grass.

Logan Sargeant also loses his Williams and ends up running through the gravel at Turn 17. Logan soon cuts through the grass at Turn 14.

Leclerc goes back to the top and with 17 minutes remaining, Verstappen sets out on track on a fresh set of Soft tyres for a qualifying run.

He soon reports that his helmet tear-off ended up in the brake duct, so he returned back to pits to have it removed before setting off again. He is only fourth fastest.

Verstappen soon reports his car is a disaster at Turn 11, claiming he has no grip.

The final 15 minutes saw most of the teams set out on longer runs with Harder tyre compounds, but Verstappen keep going on qualifying run, but has to bail out having gone straight into the grass at Turn 14. Hamilton also has another spin causing a brief Yellow flag.

Verstappen in the dying moments of the session, still on another qualifying run, but ended up in the gravel at Turn 12, as he was struggled to get his head around the middle sector of the track.

How they finished

Leclerc clocked a 1:16.990 to go top of the session and was 0.104s ahead of Russell in second while Sainz was 0.026s further down the road in third.

Perez was fourth fastest in the Red Bull, 0.243s off the pace and 0.007s ahead of Verstappen who was fifth fastest in the sister car.

Tsunoda was sixth fastest for VCARB, four tenths off the pace and ahead of Hamilton who was seventh fastest in the Mercedes, the seven-time F1 Champ having several off moments during the session.

Norris was eighth fastest ahead of Piastri in ninth and Fernando Alonso in tenth.

Emilia Romagna GP FP1 Classification