Drivers lapping up Mugello challenge during Friday free practice

Friday’s free practice session for the first ever Tuscan Grand Prix gave fans and drivers a taste of what is to come over the weekend on what is evidently a spectacular fast and sweeping layout.

The fact that the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton topped the lap times will come as little surprise to most, possibly with the exception of Hamilton himself. But those times almost became the side show compared with the stunning nature of the Mugello circuit and the on-board camera footage.

The circuit has been a mainstay on the MotoGP circuit and provides for thrilling motorbike racing. So it was always going to be intriguing how the modern day F1 machinery matched up, and the results were staggering as drivers swept through the Arrabbiata right-handers at speeds of over 170mph.

It made for spectacular viewing, watching these high downforce wonders of mechanical engineering seemingly glued to the track at such high speeds. But there were some that pushed the limits too far, McLaren’s Lando Norris going too wide on the exit of Turn Three and ending up in the wall before emerging unscathed.

“As much as I hated that there was gravel as I ended up crashing, it’s better like this,” Norris told Sky Sports F1. “It’s more tricky, but more challenging – and I think that’s what it should be like.”

There was also a spin for Charles Leclerc at Turn 12 and perhaps the biggest incident of the day aside from Norris’ off was a collision between Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez, the Mexican exiting the pits just as the Alfa Romeo speeded into Turn 1, sending the latter clattering backwards through the gravel.

“It was awesome out there today,” reflected Williams Racing driver George Russell. “It is always fun to come to a proper great circuit with lots of character, it’s undulating and punishes you if you make a mistake. The speeds are very high, so it was good fun out there. The tyres are taking a pounding, so we have a bit of work to do to get on top of that. The race is going to be difficult yet exciting, as nobody knows how it will pan out. We have a good idea of how we need to get the car set up, so we shall see.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.

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