With 20 minutes remaining in the opening practice session on Friday, Perez was spotted spinning without his left rear tyre while Ocon, sporting front end damage, pulled over metres later.
Both cars were unable to make it back into the pits, bringing out the red flags in a session that saw Valtteri Bottas finish fastest of all.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner confirmed the two had made contact, saying: “Ocon was on a slow lap, Sergio was on a flying lap and there was contact between the two guys.”
— Motorsport.com (@Motorsport) April 16, 2021
Following an epic race in Bahrain, Formula 1 returned to action at the Imola circuit on Friday for the beginning of the ‘Formula 1 Pirelli Gran Premio Del Made In Italy E Dell’emilia Romagna’.
Blue skies but chilly conditions greeted the drivers with Perez the first to try out the gravel, going off and through the kitty litter, with Nikita Mazepin also in the thick of it early on. He wanted to pit, was told to stay out, almost hit the pit lane wall, avoided that, and then spun into the gravel at the final corner.
— Krampon F1 (@F1Krampon) April 16, 2021
The cold, the track temperature around the 20’C mark, made the conditions difficult for the drivers.
There were more incidents as Yuki Tsunoda joined the list of those visiting the gravel traps, going off at the Tamburello chicane, while Max Verstappen also went rallying through the Tamburello gravel.
Nicholas Latifi ate dirt at Rivazza while there was a late spinner and crasher into the barrier leading into the pit lane. Guess who? Yip, Mazepin.
Lewis Hamilton set the early pace with Pierre Gasly ahead at the halfway mark. Carlos Sainz took over at the front, clocking a 1:17.296 moments later the session was red flagged.
With the action back on with 12 minutes remaining, with Hamilton hitting the front followed by Verstappen. It was, however, Bottas who had the final say, a 1:16.564 putting him 0.041s up on Hamilton.
Verstappen was third, 0.058s down, finishing ahead of Charles Leclerc, who spent most of the session without a time on the board, and Gasly. Sainz was P6.
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:16.564 23 laps
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.041s 25 laps
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.058s 21 laps
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.232s 13 laps
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 0.324s 21 laps
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.324s 26 laps
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine 0.893s 23 laps
8 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 0.925s 19 laps
9 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1.175s 24 laps
10 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.205s 23 laps
11 George Russell Williams 1.302s 25 laps
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1.319s 16 laps
13 Lando Norris McLaren 1.371s 16 laps
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1.420s 23 laps
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1.494s 24 laps
16 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1.664s 15 laps
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1.796s 20 laps
18 Nikita Mazepin Haas 2.259s 22 laps
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 2.916s 18 laps
20 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 3.217s 11 laps