Hamilton shades Verstappen in Imola's only practice session

Imola (Italy) (AFP) –


Lewis Hamilton topped the times ahead of Max Verstappen in Saturday morning's first, and final, practice at this weekend’s two-day Emilio Romagna Grand Prix.

Series leader and six-time world champion Hamilton clocked a best lap of one minute and 14.726 seconds on soft tyres in his Mercedes, beating the Dutchman’s Red Bull by two-tenths.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate and nearest title rival Valtteri Bottas was third, nearly half a second off the pace, ahead of Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

The Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon were sixth and seventh ahead of Daniil Kvyat in the second Alpha Tauri, Alex Albon in the second Red Bull and Lance Stroll of Racing Point.

On a dry blue-skied morning at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the sun burned off early low mist with the temperatures rising from 15 and 18 degrees, for air and track, at the start.

The compressed session represented Formula One’s first return to action at the historic track since 2006 and the start of a truncated two-day event.

That made the practice session critical for the teams in seeking to do four hours ‘normal’ practice work on qualifying and race set-up in just 90 minutes.

Several drivers had fast lap times deleted for exceeding track limits as they pushed in search of more speed on an ‘old school’ circuit surrounded by trees and rolling parkland in central Italy.

Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, in the second Ferrari, continued his season-long travails as he wound up 12th, six-tenths slower than Leclerc.