Leclerc is fastest, ahead of Piastri. Sainz sixth, Verstappen only seventh

Ferrari makes Imola smile, and Verstappen has never faced such difficulty before

Home air, wind of renewal. Many were in the car, some of whom were not expected. As the third engine of the season, it was installed after a small caution at the end of the Miami race. Imola is a ‘supporter’ of Ferrari, calling for closer to Red Bull and response to McLaren’s success in the USA. The start was right: in the first free practice, Leclerc was fastest, followed by new engineer Brian Posey, who replaced Xavi Marcos.

Charles immediately drove a difficult track that does not forgive the slightest mistake: a strong signal, and he had no problems adapting to the advanced single seater, a package that should guarantee an improvement of about 3 tenths. Sainz also advanced, in third place behind Russell, which confirms the ease of driving the car to the extreme. We’re only at the beginning so any judgment should be taken with a pinch of salt, but in the battle of updates (here Red Bull, Aston Martin and Mercedes have introduced their innovations) Ferrari could stand a good chance.

McLaren having difficulty with Piastri and Norris at the backBut what is surprising are the great difficulties Verstappen faces. Max never found that feeling, complained about the settings, and made a series of mistakes that weren’t his fault that highlight the difficulty of maintaining the car. He ended up behind Perez, handling Turn 12 was an ordeal and not even settings changes during the race improved the situation. The second free practices will be key to understanding whether Red Bull are truly beatable Or if it is just a bug that can be fixed in the device configuration. Well done to Ole Biermann, who finished 15th on his Haas debut (Magnussen will return for Round 2), driving cautiously, as we saw him do in Jeddah with a Ferrari in place of Sainz. He is proving himself worthy of Formula 1. At 5pm, on Fp2, the first facts of the weekend will emerge.

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