Charles Leclerc span first at Turn 14 in the Variante Alta chicane. In quick succession, Kevin Magnussen, Nicholas Latifi, Alex Albon, Lando Norris and Sainz also had off-track excursions.
The right-handers at Acque Minerale were catching some out, with many others struggling with the run down to Turn 17 at Rivazza.
With just over 20 minutes gone, Sainz estimated that the track needed another 10min of running before it was ready for intermediate tyres, his team-mate illustrating how treacherous it remained again with a spin on the white line at Acque Minerale again.
The list of off-track excursions continued: Esteban Ocon clattering across the gravel track at Rivazza, crunching the older-spec floor on his Alpine, rather than the upgraded version given to Fernando Alonso.
The rain reappeared 25min into the session, with most cars back into the pits, but Vettel was soon out, braving a run on intermediate tyres. He was immediately quicker, going fifth fastest, compared with the rest of the grid running full wets.
Halfway through practice, Perez headed the timesheets, but there were just two-tenths of a second covering the top three:
1 Sergio Perez, Red Bull, 1min 35.476sec
2 Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 1min 35.629sec
3 Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 1min 35.753sec
4 Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1min 36.158sec
5 Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, 1min 36.537sec
With a clear racing line established, more intermediate runners streamed onto the circuit and up the timesheets. Lando Norris posted a time 0.1sec slower than Perez’s full-wet lap, Soon afterwards Carlos Sainz, taking a new engine this weekend after crashing out of the Australian Grand Prix, went 1.7sec faster than the Red Bull on intermediates.
Magnussen continued to be caught out by Turn 17, and crunched across the gravel, as Sainz continued to up the pace, posting a 1min 32.606sec lap, pipped shortly afterwards by Leclerc who was less than a tenth quicker — a lap after spinning again.
The Ferrari drivers continued trading times, as the track dried, while Magnussen managed to stay on track to show the Haas’s pace. He was fourth fastest behind Verstappen with 10min to go.
Others were still finding it difficult to stay on track: Verstappen, Gasly, Perez and Vettel all leaving the asphalt, but continuing to run.
Lando Norris didn’t escape quite so easily, spinning into the gravel at Acque Minerale and having to reverse out — the red flag was waved as he waited for a gap.
All but five cars headed out for the quickly restarted session, with just three minutes left. It was enough time for Acque Minerale to claim a final victim, as Valtteri Bottas ran over the gravel and beaching himself. Fortunately for the Finn, he missed the wall by just a few inches: the Alfa lives to fight in qualifying.
2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix First Practice timing
|1||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||1min 29.402sec|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+1.465sec|
|6||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+3.610sec|
|8||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+3.963sec|
|11||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||+5.213sec|
|16||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+6.631sec|
|19||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||+8.048sec|