Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola
While Mercedes struck back against Red Bull by topping the times at Imola on Friday ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the overall picture remains incredibly close. Despite having a possible edge this weekend, the reigning Formula 1 world champion squad is not taking anything for granted...
Formula 1 practice sessions are rather different in 2021. It was known going into the season that a quarter of the overall practice running had been cut with the Friday sessions trimmed to one hour each, but just how they’d play out remained a mystery.
But opening practice at Imola for the second Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, alongside what was witnessed in Bahrain three weeks ago, suggests a pattern is emerging. The terser sessions are more eventful – particularly in the opening 15 minutes. The teams have the same number of tyre sets as they did before, but have no incentive to wait for track conditions to improve, so they hit the track earlier with something of an explosion of on-track action. But this also makes the form book picture cloudier overall, as the long runs are shorter and there is more chance of disruption if things go wrong, as Charles Leclerc's late FP2 crash proved today.
Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...
Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.
OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.
Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition
Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory
Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.
As a highly-rated Mercedes junior, George Russell is naturally billed as Lewis Hamilton's heir apparent where Britain's next Formula 1 champion is concerned. But he may face competition for that accolade from Lando Norris, fresh from a confidence-boosting run to third at Imola whose rise is being accelerated by his McLaren team’s revival
Emilia Romagna GP: Best F1 2021 technical images from Imola
AlphaTauri built special pedal case for Tsunoda