Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola
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Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola

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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.

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