Mercedes drivers mean business

Bottas edges teammate Hamilton in both practice sessions

Mercedes topped both practice sessions for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix as Red Bull endured a torrid day on Friday.

Red Bull was favoured heading to Imola but fortunes swung in Mercedes’ favor as the reigning championship team managed a one-two in both practices while its rival finished each session with just one driver.

Valtteri Bottas was fastest in both, edging Lewis Hamilton by just .010 seconds in the second practice and .041 in the first.

Pierre Gasly, who briefly separated the two Mercedes drivers, was .078 slower than Bottas in the second practice.

Problems for Red Bull

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who looks set to be Hamilton’s closest rival this season, had a problem with his car early in the second practice and his session ended abruptly 10 minutes in. Verstappen had been third-fastest in the morning, .058 behind Bottas.

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez failed to finish the morning practice after an incident with Esteban Ocon heading into the Villeneuve chicane. The rear left tyre of Perez’s car was ripped off and the front of Ocon’s Alpine suffered heavy damage after the pair came together.

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