This weekend the FIA Formula 1 World Championship returns to the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, or better known as Imola, for another Grand Prix near the Apennine mountains.
Last year saw the introduction of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to the F1 calendar due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This was supposed to be a one-off special event but this year Imola was subbed-in to replace the postponed Chinese Grand Prix.
Last time at Imola, the race weekend was reduced to two days, with just one practice session. This was due to the congested calendar, but they’ve reverted back to the three days running for this year’s race.
What happened at the Bahrain Grand Prix?
Lewis Hamilton won after an exciting end to the race. Max Verstappen had been on top form all weekend, dominating every practice session and gaining pole position.
His race got off to a good start but a strategy call from Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team meant Hamilton got the undercut when it came to pitting.
The two swapped between first and second a handful of times but the real race for the win happened in the dying stages of the race. Hamilton was leading with a charging Verstappen right behind him and it looked like Verstappen had stolen the win on Lap 52. Verstappen overtook Hamilton on Turn 4 but went off the track to do so. He was instructed by his team, who had been told by the FIA, to give track position back to Hamilton for overtaking while off the track. Verstappen had lost it then and Hamilton cruised over the line victorious.
Valtteri Bottas was the final podium sitter with a third-place finish.
What happened at the last Emilia Romagna Grand Prix?
The 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was the first time F1 had returned to Imola since 2006.
Hamilton was the victor with teammate Bottas coming in second. The one-two finish secured the World Constructors Championship for Mercedes for a record-breaking seventh consecutive time.
Bottas initially lead the race from pole position, with Hamilton just behind him, followed by Verstappen. Verstappen climbed up to second on the first lap when he overtook Hamilton on the run down to Tamburello.
Esteban Ocon’s car came to a stop on Lap 29 due to a clutch issue. This brought out a Virtual Safety Car which gifted Hamilton the lead. Bottas and Verstappen had pitted on previous laps, so Hamilton used the Virtual Safety Car to gain an advantage.
Verstappen become the next casualty of the race on Lap 51. He suffered what looked to be a tyre issue and went spinning off into the gravel at Villeneuve corner.
George Russell was onboard for his first points in a Williams Racing car. However, it wasn’t meant to be when he locked up, spun and crashed his car during the safety car period.
After the Verstappen retirement, Sergio Pérez was promoted to third but decided to pit during the safety car, tumbling him down the pecking order.
When racing got started again on Lap 58, pitting proved to be the wrong decision when Daniel Ricciardo was able to cruise home in third, his second podium of the year.
The 4.909km circuit will host 63 Laps, a total race distance of 309.049km. Imola is one of the many few anti-clockwise tracks on the calendar.
Imola has a whole host of corners and speeds to test all aspects of a car and a driver’s ability. It is also one of the narrower tracks, meaning drivers need to think heavily on their strategies.
The fastest time was set by Hamilton last year at a time of 1:15.484.
Sectors, Corners and DRS Zones
The track has a total of nineteen corners, with twelve to the left and nine to the right.
Each sector is evenly spaced out with Turn’s 1 to 6 in Sector 1. Turn’s 2 through to 4 are collectively called Variante Tamburello and Turn’s 5 and 6 are Variante Villeneuve.
Turn 7 through to 13 is Sector 2. Turn 7, also known as Tosa, is the only named corner in this sector.
Finally, Sector 3 is Turn 14 through to 19. Turn’s 14 to 15 are Variante Alta with Turn 17 to 18 known as Rivazza.
Imola has just the one DRS zone. The DRS Detection Zone starts just before drivers get to Rivazza, ready to charge along the start straight.
The selected compounds for this race are the mid-range. The hard will be the C2 white-striped, C3 is the medium yellow-striped and finally the fastest compounds, the C4, are the red-striped.
The same tyre strategy was used at the last race, but tyre amounts were reduced due to no Friday running. Team’s will get the full thirteen sets this year.
What should we look out for this year?
With one race under the belt, we’re still none the wiser who looks to be the strongest this year.
Mercedes had a good race in Bahrain, but it was Verstappen race to lose, and he did. The Red Bull Racing challenger is looking strong so I believe they can give us all the title fight we want.
McLaren F1 Team are looking to be the best of the rest with a fourth-place finish for Lando Norris at Bahrain. His teammate Ricciardo wasn’t too far behind in seventh. His race wasn’t the best but had sustained some underfloor damage to his car.
Elsewhere on the grid, Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda showed they have got the power to challenge this year. Yuki Tsunoda was a surprise strong performer in the session opener, gaining points on his first race. He one to watch.
At the bottom end of the table, Both Williams Racing and Uralkali Haas F1 Team’s woes continued. Both teams came away with no points and just one driver of each team left come the chequered flag. They need a boost otherwise they’re going to get left in the dust.
What’s the schedule?
Friday 16 April
10:00 BST / 11:00 Local Time – Free Practice 1
13:30 BST / 14:30 Local Time – Free Practice 2
Saturday 17 April
10:00 BST / 11:00 Local Time – Free Practice 3
13:00 BST / 14:00 Local Time – Qualifying
Sunday 18 April
14:00 BST / 15:00 Local Time – Race
How can I keep up with the action?
Follow all the action at the Checkered Flag with our extensive coverage, quotes and analysis of every session of the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. You can watch all the coverage live on Sky F1.