Mercedes pair on top at Imola

17 April 2021 02:42:42 GMTPlus10

Lewis Hamilton says the hard work is paying off after he and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas impressed in second practice for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

The world champion, driving on soft tyres, was 0.1 seconds slower than Bottas, who favoured mediums, while Red Bull rival Max Verstappen suffered a mechanical failure early in the session.

Formula One fans are hoping for a repeat of the season-opening race in Bahrain when Hamilton and Verstappen went wheel to wheel in a thriller which the Briton won.

I'm sure there is more performance to gain somewhere.

Lewis Hamilton

And after Friday's practice session, there is also the prospect of Ferrari closing the gap adding weight to the belief that this could turn into the most exciting F1 season for many years.

Charles Leclerc was faster than both Hamilton and Bottas in second practice – he went 0.2 seconds quicker than the Finn – but had his time wiped out for exceeding track limits.

The Ferrari ace had also been threatening to be more competitive during impressive race-simulation runs but his session ended badly when he crashed his car.

Hamilton, though, was satisfied with the changes Mercedes have made since Bahrain, telling reporters: "The team has worked really hard. The track has come more in our direction. We started off with a really good set-up, small tweaks here and there.

"It is quite bumpy, but good grip. It will be interesting to see how quick Red Bull are tomorrow. It didn't feel like there was much difference between the tyres but I'm sure there is more performance to gain somewhere."

Verstappen is 1.61 to qualify fastest on Saturday, with Hamilton 3.00 and Bottas 6.50.

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