Max Verstappen collapses after just five training laps to beat title rival Lewis Hamilton at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix … but Valtteri Bottas puts his Mercedes team-mate on the fastest lap
- Max Verstappen experienced a nightmare training session on Friday afternoon
- Red Bull Star had to withdraw after 10 minutes due to a mechanical defect
- The 23-year-old Verstappen wants to avenge his defeat in Bahrain against Lewis Hamilton
- Mercedes offered more speed in Italy and secured a ban on the first two places on Friday
Max Verstappen was dealt a blow while trying to win the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday after collapsing in practice.
The afternoon in Imola for the second part of the championship was barely 10 minutes old when a mechanical defect ended Verstappen’s participation.
The Dutchman, who sought revenge against Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix last month, stopped at the end of the pit just before his return to the Red Bull garage. His team reported a suspected drive shaft failure.
Max Verstappen had a bad second workout and retired after just 10 minutes
The 23-year-old Red Bull star suffered mechanical failures and lost valuable track time
Verstappen, who had only managed five laps, was left as a helpless spectator when Valtteri Bottas completed a training double for Mercedes in front of his teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen will be back for qualifying on Saturday, but losing track time could prove costly to the 23-year-old as he looks to bring the title fight to Hamilton.
Hamilton opened its offer for an unprecedented eighth world championship with a defensive masterclass to keep Verstappen at bay and win in Bahrain.
But in terms of pace, Mercedes had few answers for Verstappen and Red Bull when it came to curtain lifters.
Verstappen wants to avenge his dramatic defeat in Bahrain against master Lewis Hamilton
However, the black machines appear in better shape at Imola after scooping a one-two in both sessions on Friday.
Bottas finished the day just 0.010 seconds ahead of Hamilton, and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished third, 0.078 seconds behind the pace.
The afternoon action was largely uneventful compared to the opening run, when Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez collided and Nikita Mazepin was out in his Haas.
A widespread technical glitch at Imola resulted in drivers drifting away and unable to talk to their respective pit walls over the radio.
Indeed, the stewards found that communication issues were a factor in Ocon and Perez’s collision when the two made contact through the fifth corner.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas led the hourly list in both sessions
Perez suffered a left-to-rear tire damage while Ocon was also forced with front-right damage to his Alpine space, but both men returned for the second session.
Mazepin was also able to take part in the final action after failing on the final corner in the final moments of the opening run.
After the technical problems for the second practice session were resolved, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc finished fourth and fifth for Ferrari, but the latter was another driver in the wars.
Only three minutes more, the Monegasque lost control of his Ferrari through left turn 18 before running over the gravel into the wall.
“I’m sorry folks,” Leclerc said over the radio. “I put a lot of pressure on.”
Perez finished sixth in his Red Bull, almost nine tenths slower than Bottas. McLaren’s Lando Norris finished ninth as Sebastian Vettel’s troubled start to life with Aston Martin continued after finishing 15th.