Mercedes-AMG junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli set the pace in both free practice sessions ahead of the opening round of the Italian Formula 4 Championship as the wet conditions and poor visibility caused multiple stoppages.
Antonelli and his Prema team-mates Rafael Camara and James Wharton were a class apart in the difficult conditions, remaining out front following the morning’s opening test session.
Action for the day was brought to a close early as conditions were deemed too dangerous to continue following a red flag shown with 15 minutes of the second session remaining. The fastest times of the day were all set on a drying track at the end of the first free practice session.
Though the morning’s heavy rain had stopped, the track remained wet for the start of FP1. The 40-minute session was interrupted four times by full course yellows, making it impossible for drivers to get into any rhythm on the demanding Imola circuit.
Ferrai junior Camara had seemed set to end the session on top with a lap time of 2m01.215s set at the halfway mark, and 0.576s ahead of Antonelli as the track was neutralised for the final time.
The green flag was shown with just 2m40s on the clock, allowing time for just one flying lap. Antonelli managed to find a gap in the traffic to put in a stunning lap of 2m00.408s on his final lap, including setting the fastest sector times in sectors two, three and four. With Camara unable to get in a clear lap, Antonelli finished the session on top by 0.807s.
Wharton completed a Prema 1-2-3 as he improved on his previous best by over 1s on his final tour.
Marcus Amand had been fourth before the final FCY, but was also unable to improve, dropping back to sixth behind the PHM Racing duo of Nikita Bedrin and Taylor Barnard.
By the time the second session got underway, 20 minutes behind schedule due to red flags in the preceding F2000 Italian Trophy qualifying, the rain was falling heavily again and visibility in the early evening gloom was minimal.
Before anybody could complete a single lap, the first full course yellow was deployed to recover Frederik Lund from the Tamburello gravel. Once running got underway again, Antonelli, Camara and Wharton quickly established themselves at the top of the order.
Camara managed to move to the top with a time of 2m10.774s, 0.193s ahead of Antonelli, just before a second FCY was required for an off from Jules Castro.
The Prema trio were in a class apart from the rest as Antonelli went fastest with a 2m08.997s on his sixth lap, 0.415s ahead of Wharton who had jumped to second, before a third FCY was called with 19 minutes remaining as Viktoria Blokhina went into the gravel on the exit of Tamburello.
Before anybody could even get up to speed the first red flag of the day was required following an incident at Rivazza involving Brando Badoer and Ivan Domingues, with the stewards deciding that the session would not be restarted on safety grounds.
Combined free practice results
|1||Andrea Kimi Antonelli||Prema Racing||2m00.408s||20|
|2||Rafael Camara||Prema Racing||2m01.215s||+0.807s||19|
|3||James Wharton||Prema Racing||2m01.225s||+0.817s||21|
|4||Nikita Bedrin||PHM Racing||2m01.824s||+1.416s||21|
|5||Taylor Barnard||PHM Racing||2m02.175s||+1.767s||20|
|6||Marcus Amand||US Racing||2m02.741s||+2.333s||21|
|7||Charlie Wurz||Prema Racing||2m02.857s||+2.449s||22|
|8||Alex Dunne||US Racing||2m02.910s||+2.502s||20|
|9||Martinus Stenshorne||Van Amersfoort Racing||2m03.096s||+2.688s||20|
|10||Conrad Laursen||Prema Racing||2m03.386s||+2.978s||21|
|11||Ricardo Escotto||Cram Motorsport||2m03.654s||+3.246s||22|
|12||Nikhil Bohra||US Racing||2m03.692s||+3.284s||20|
|13||Ivan Domingues||Iron Lynx||2m03.784s||+3.376s||21|
|14||Alfio Spina||BWR Motorsport||2m03.785s||+3.377s||21|
|15||Arias Deukmedjan||Van Amersfoort Racing||2m03.947s||+3.539s||19|
|16||Kacper Sztuka||US Racing||2m04.154s||+3.746s||18|
|17||Brando Badoer||Van Amersfoort Racing||2m04.348s||+3.940s||20|
|18||Marcos Flack||R-ace GP||2m04.366s||+3.958s||21|
|19||Jules Castro||Van Amersfoort Racing||2m04.541s||+4.133s||22|
|20||Emerson Fittipaldi Jr||Van Amersfoort Racing||2m04.796s||+4.388s||22|
|21||Pedro Clerot||AKM Motorsport||2m04.855s||+4.447s||20|
|22||Frederik Lund||R-ace GP||2m04.969s||+4.561s||16|
|23||Jonas Ried||PHM Racing||2m05.182s||+4.774s||20|
|24||Ethan Ischer||Jenzer Motorsport||2m05.318s||+4.910s||22|
|25||Pedro Perino||US Racing||2m05.452s||+5.044s||18|
|26||Maya Weug||Iron Lynx||2m05.989s||+5.581s||22|
|27||Andrea Frassineti||Cars Racing||2m06.004s||+5.596s||22|
|28||Elia Sperandio||Maffi Racing||2m06.848s||+6.440s||11|
|29||Alex Partyshev||Jenzer Motorsport||2m06.858s||+6.450s||20|
|30||Viktoria Blokina||PHM Racing||2m07.134s||+6.726s||18|
|31||Ismail Akhmed||AKM Motorsport||2m08.497s||+8.089s||18|
|32||Rishab Jain||BWR Motorsport||2m10.064s||+9.656s||20|
|33||Giovanni Maschio||AS Motorsport||2m10.539s||+10.131s||14|