Preview | Second chance for Verstappen or will Mercedes also celebrate in Imola?

14-04-2021 08:46 | Updated: 14-04-2021 10:23
by GPblog.com
F1 News
Preview | Second chance for Verstappen or will Mercedes also celebrate in Imola?

It is race weekend again and that means we can get ready for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Not a common name on the Formula 1 calendar, but the race in Imola is certainly not an unknown for the Formula 1 fan. Who will take victory on this legendary track in 2021? Will it be Max Verstappen, or will it be Mercedes again? Or perhaps even a surprise winner?

Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari

The circuit of Imola used for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has been in its current state since 2008. Of course, there have been some safety modifications but the circuit in Italy still has that unique character.

At 4.909km Imola is certainly not the longest track on the grid, but with 19 corners it is a pretty technical circuit. Every mistake is punished because next to the track you immediately end up in the grass or gravel. The fastest lap was set by Lewis Hamilton during last year's race. He drove 1.15.484.

Grand Prix in Imola

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was held for the first time in 2020 but it was not the first time a race was held in Imola. This happened in 1980 when the test track of Ferrari was used for the first time for the Italian Grand Prix. This edition, won by Nelson Piquet, was so successful that the race returned in 1981 under the name of San Marino Grand Prix.

After the fatal crash of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger in 1994, the track was modified for 1995. The race would remain on the calendar until 2006. Michael Schumacher won no less than seven times for the Tifosi, Senna is still the number two with three wins, as is Alain Prost. Williams and Ferrari as a team won the most in Imola: eight times each.

Formula 1 in 2021

Arriving in Imola we have concluded the winter test and the first Grand Prix in Bahrain. Red Bull Racing and Mercedes are the two teams at the top as expected, but this year with a significantly smaller difference between the two. The pole in Bahrain even went to Max Verstappen by four-tenths.

In the race, however, it was Lewis Hamilton again, who eventually won the race thanks to some clever tactics of Mercedes. With Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes had two drivers in the front, while Sergio Perez had to fight his way to the front after a weak qualifying and a problem with his car on Sunday.

Emilia Romagna GP Prediction

In Imola, Bottas and Perez are going to play extremely important roles, as they are likely to do all year. Perez is not expected to be between the Mercedes in qualifying already, but he should qualify P4 or close to give Red Bull an extra option in the battle with Mercedes. If so, Verstappen won't be such an easy target anymore.

If that is the case, Verstappen is the favourite. Hamilton lost two tenths due to a mistake in turn 10 in Bahrain. Verstappen had the best handling car in Bahrain, and there are a lot of corners in Imola.

Verstappen will have to take pole and hope that Perez qualifies close to him. Overtaking is not easy in Imola, but with a good strategy, you can still get something done. Verstappen has the fastest car and is therefore the favourite, but Mercedes and certainly Lewis Hamilton are still too close for Verstappen to fill in blindly for the win.

Weather forecast

Earlier this week we already let you know the forecast of Weather.com that there was a big chance of rain during the race on Sunday. That chance of rain has only increased. There is an 83 per cent chance of rain during the race in Imola, and with 12 degrees Celsius, it is not exactly warm either.

Friday and Saturday seem to be dry in Imola, but it will be a big change for the drivers and teams. From the extreme heat in Bahrain, they are now in Europe. In Italy, it can be very nice at this time of year but for this weekend the weather is mainly cold and rainy.

Timetable Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Friday

First free practice: 10:00 - 11:00

Second free practice: 13:30 - 14:30

Saturday

Third free practice: 10:00 - 11:00

Qualification: 13:00 - 14:00

Sunday

Race: 14:00 - 16:00

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