Mercedes announce another senior departure as Imola GP action gets underway – F1 news round-up

Henry Valantine
Mercedes and Ferrari were in the F1 news on Friday.

A Mercedes departure and Ferrari's pace at Imola were in Friday's F1 news.

The action has now begun in earnest at Imola with the drivers back on track, and we have all the best of the F1 news to bring you from Italy.

It has been another busy day in the Formula 1 paddock, so without further ado and with additional reporting from Thomas Maher on the ground in Imola, let’s take a look at the key headlines.

Mercedes release aero chief in another senior departure

Mercedes’ chief aerodynamicist Gioacchino Vino has left the team after a six-year stint at Brackley, this confirmation coming days after the announcement of both Loïc Serra and Jerome d’Ambrosio leaving for Ferrari.

Technical director James Allison reacted to the news by saying that such departures are part of the natural “ebb and flow” of a Formula 1 team, with senior staff coming and going as seasons progress.

Read more: Mercedes release W15 aero chief Gioacchino Vino after six-year stay

Logan Sargeant ‘at risk’ as pressure builds over F1 seat

Williams team principal James Vowles has admitted that Logan Sargeant is “at risk” of losing his seat if he does not pick up his performances in the coming weeks, with the team looking to secure their driver line-up for the seasons to come.

With Alex Albon having signed on the dotted line for a contract extension, Vowles admitted that Sargeant needs to up his game on the other side of the garage.

He told Sky F1: “We’ve had a direct conversation [with Sargeant], which is a very hard conversation when you do it.

“The simple matter of fact is that he is at risk. That’s the simple matter of fact behind it. He has to perform above where he is, this is a meritocracy. I’m helping him on that journey. I want him to be successful.”

Read more: Williams tease more driver news ‘in next few weeks’ with Logan Sargeant at ‘risk’ of axe

On track, Charles Leclerc heads a very good day for Ferrari

But in the main action of the day, Charles Leclerc went quickest in both FP1 and FP2 for Ferrari at Imola, no doubt getting hopes up throughout the tifosi-dom as a result.

Leclerc said after the session a potential wind change is keeping his “feet on the ground” because of it, but the upgraded SF-24 looked quick – as did McLaren, the RB of Yuki Tsunoda and Mercedes, with both of their drivers finishing in the top five after the FP2 qualifying simulations.

Red Bull were left with work to do overnight, meanwhile, after Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were in the lower reaches of the top 10 over one lap.

Read more: Emilia Romagna GP: Charles Leclerc tops FP2 as Red Bull face multi-team challenge at Imola

But elsewhere, Max Verstappen struggles for Red Bull

With overtaking difficult at Imola (but not impossible), qualifying takes on an added importance for the drivers – and Verstappen was not best pleased with how his RB20 was handling throughout practice on Friday.

In summing it up succinctly, he knows that Red Bull have work to do to get the car to his liking come quali.

“A difficult day,” he said after FP2. “Just difficult to get a good balance and just not really feeling comfortable in the car.

“Moving around a lot, it’s very easy to lose the car and a few things that we have to look at. Because today it’s not comfortable.

“Also the long run was really bad. So definitely a few things that we have to improve if we want to be competitive tomorrow.”

Read more: What happened to Max Verstappen? Imola troubles explained after Friday horror show

Exclusive: Sky F1 presenter talks Imola return and Senna anniversary

As Formula 1 returns to Imola 30 years on from the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, Sky F1’s lead anchor Simon Lazenby spoke to about unseen footage from the day and the impact of Netflix on the sport as a whole.

Along with the positivity brought by Lando Norris’ win in Miami last time out, there was plenty covered by Lazenby in an exclusive interview released on Friday.

Read more: ‘Utterly harrowing’ – When ‘Drive to Survive’ meant something completely different in F1