Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas happy to be ‘hunters’ as they set fastest time in FP1

F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?

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Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas say they’re relishing the prospect of being the ‘hunters’ this weekend, however remain adamant Red Bull have the strongest car heading into the Emilia Romagna GP.

Valtteri Bottas was fastest in first practice as the session was cut short by a few minutes thanks to a Nikita Mazepin spin in the Haas which brought out the red flag.

Hamilton was second fastest with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen in third. Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez picked up a puncture after what looked to have been a coming together with the Alpine of Estaban Ocon.

But coming into the weekend, Hamilton will be reminded of the opening round of the Formula One season in Bahrain, as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen outpaced Mercedes over the entire weekend.

Hamilton was the eventual winner after a grandstand finish in the desert, as Verstappen chased down the Mercedes in the closing stages of the race.

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The Red Bull managed to sweep past Hamilton for the lead, but was promptly advised by race control to hand it back.

“You can see that Red Bull currently are ahead and we are the hunters,” Hamilton told Sky F1.

“I think we like that position. I like it. That’s what I started out with back when I was racing karts at Rye House.

“It’s nothing new for me and it’s definitely exciting.”

Bottas agreed, saying: “We are behind. I don’t feel pressure, I feel excitement and motivation.

“We are the hunters, not the ones being hunted. I can definitely see the motivation in each team member’s eyes.”

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“We’re under no illusions that we having to chase,” explained Hamilton.

“We are on the back foot slightly. But I still think we’re the best team.

“As it’s shown in the last race, there’s so many elements to having the best team, not just having the best car.”

Meanwhile, when asked if we are to expect much of the same from Red Bull in Imola, Verstappen remained quietly confident.

“Yeah, hopefully of course the other way round – in terms of finishing order,” laughed Verstappen.

“For us in general it was a positive weekend, but the race of course was a little bit disappointing to not get the win there, but lets say, if that’s a bad result then I’m just looking forward to the next 22 races.

“It seems like we have a very competitive car, of course the conditions here are completely different.

“Looking at last year we were I think quite competitive here, and it’s a great track to drive in general.

“I hope that the car again is very competitive, but I don’t see a reason why it would’ve been.”

Free practice two for the Emilia Romagna GP gets underway at 1.30pm.

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