Hamilton leads only practice session as F1 returns to Imola

IMOLA, Italy — Lewis Hamilton finished ahead of Max Verstappen in the only practice session for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Saturday as Formula One returned to the Imola circuit for the first time since 2006.

Hamilton clocked 1 minute, 14.726 seconds on the Enzo and Dino Ferrari track to finish 0.297 ahead of Verstappen’s Red Bull.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was third, 0.492 behind.

In a sign of F1’s progress, Hamilton was more than eight seconds faster than Michael Schumacher’s pole position time for the 2006 San Marino GP at Imola.

Mercedes can clinch a record seventh straight constructors’ title in Sunday’s race unless Red Bull outscores it by 34 points — something Red Bull hasn’t done in more than four years.

Only one 90-minute practice session was held as part of an abbreviated weekend inserted into the rescheduled calendar due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pierre Gasly of Alphatauri was fourth and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari was fifth.

Qualifying was scheduled for later Saturday.

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