Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver Valtteri Bottas topped the timings charts in both the morning and afternoon sessions on Day 1 of the FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAN PREMIO DEL MADE IN ITALY E DELL’EMILIA ROMAGNA 2021 with teammate Lewis Hamilton close behind in P2.
After a slow start in Bahrain, the team used today’s sessions to explore set-up changes and better understand the balance characteristics of the W12.
Valtteri Bottas Blasts Out Of The Blocks
Valtteri Bottas struggled early in Bahrain and was frustrated to play catch up across the weekend, so after topping the timesheets in both sessions at Imola, the Finn cut a much happier figure in the paddock.
‘The car is feeling much better than on the first day in Bahrain. As I said yesterday, it is a different track and type of circuit with different grip levels and surface. The weekend has started in a positive way, I’m much happier with the balance of the car.’
‘The car feels better, we still have the same type of issues as in Bahrain but less so. Still not perfect but we are only on event two out of 23 this season so hopefully we have time to fix it. I feel like we’ve made steps forward so that’s really good. The whole grid from midfield to the front looks very close. We didn’t see the best from Red Bull today but we’ll see that in Q3 tomorrow. No doubt they are going to be fast. We still don’t think we are the fastest car and we really need to improve on that on Saturday,’ said Bottas.
Lewis Hamilton Works On Weaknesses
Despite winning the opening race of the season in Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton was aware there was a lot of work to be done to match the pace of the Red Bulls, and was happy with the progress made by the team.
‘The team worked very hard to understand what happened in the last race where we were weak and to see if we can try to tweak the car for a better set-up. I also think the track has come a little bit more in our direction. We started off with a really good set-up today, a few tweaks here and there but no major issues. So far, good pace from us this weekend.’
‘We haven’t seen the best from the Red Bulls yet. It looks like they had messy sessions with traffic but it will be interesting to see just how quick they are tomorrow. Positioning is important here – it’s hard to follow around this track so nailing the set-up and maximising tomorrow is going to be so important,’ added Hamilton.
Mercedes Bring Aerodynamic Upgrades To Imola
After struggling for pace over the first two days in Bahrain, Mercedes brought several aerodynamic upgrades to Imola, that brought immediate results.
‘We brought a few aerodynamic updates here and our early work today confirmed that they were performing correctly. The car has also had a reasonable balance from the start which has made working through the programme relatively easy. Generating tyre temperature isn’t especially easy here – the air and track are cold – but at least we’re not suffering from poor rear grip like we were in Bahrain.’
‘The traffic has been a bit of a challenge, both drivers struggled to find clear track at times but today is about understanding the car rather than setting quick laps and I think we have done some good work in that regard. We’ve still not managed to get the grip out of the soft tyre on lap one so that’s something we need to work on overnight. We also can’t say where we stand in terms of pace as we’ve not seen Verstappen on a single lap or long run but both drivers are reasonably happy with how the car is working and the issues we need to solve are all within the realms of normal setup tuning,’ concluded Andrew Shovlin.