When F1 last raced at Imola in the mid-noughties it had a deserved reputation for being very tough to overtake on. The last two grands prix at this track ended with two drivers nose-to-tail at the head of the field, one unable to find a way past the other.
“It’s going to be hard to overtake,” reckons Kevin Magnussen. “It can be too hard to overtake of course – Monaco and Singapore, they’re often not very exciting races because of that. But I don’t think it’s as bad as that here.”
Much the same was said back in September when they visited another unfamiliar Italian track, Mugello. On that occasion the long straight and DRS zone meant passing wasn’t as tough as many feared.
Could the same be the case this weekend? In its current guise the track has a much longer, faster run to the Tamburello chicane than it did in 2005, and drivers can trigger their DRS for part of it.
The general consensus is this is the only point on the track where overtaking is likely to happen. “It is quite a long, long, straight,” said Lando Norris.
“We don’t know 100% what the racing is going to be like, how easy it’s going to be to overtake. I don’t think it’s going to be maybe as unpredictable or as exciting as what it was in Portugal last weekend, just because it’s a bit more normal this weekend with how the tyres are working on the Tarmac and the wind and everything.
“Turn one on lap one is our best opportunity. And turn one is the best opportunity on every other lap as well.”
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Despite the unfamiliar course and limited practice running, teams will likely converge on the usual one-stop strategy, says Pirelli’s head of motorsport Mario Isola. However he believes all three compounds could come into play.
“I’m expecting a one-stop strategy with a combination of the three compounds,” he said. “For the cars starting on the soft it is possible both the soft and medium or the soft-hard strategy, they are both very close.”
The Mercedes pair on the front row and Max Verstappen behind them will line up on the medium compound tyres.
“For the cars starting on medium they have the opportunity to do medium with a soft at the end,” said Isola. “With a lighter car, that is probably an advantage.
“Or medium-hard. Medium-hard is slightly slower compared to the other two strategies. But that strategy gives the opportunity to have a much wider window for the pit stop.”
That long run to the first corner will be Lewis Hamilton’s best chance to wrest the lead from his team mate. While Valtteri Bottas should have the benefit of the inside line for the curved approach to the first corner, his starting position is slightly off the racing line.
If he can preserve his lead into the first corner, it’s not going to be easy for Hamilton to find a way ahead. That said, he’s won from behind in both of the last two races.
Quotes: Dieter Rencken
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Qualifying times in full
|Driver||Car||Q1||Q2 (vs Q1)||Q3 (vs Q2)|
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1’14.221||1’14.585 (+0.364)||1’13.609 (-0.976)|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1’14.229||1’14.643 (+0.414)||1’13.706 (-0.937)|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1’15.034||1’14.974 (-0.060)||1’14.176 (-0.798)|
|4||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1’15.183||1’14.681 (-0.502)||1’14.502 (-0.179)|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||1’15.474||1’14.953 (-0.521)||1’14.520 (-0.433)|
|6||Alexander Albon||Red Bull||1’15.402||1’14.745 (-0.657)||1’14.572 (-0.173)|
|7||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||1’15.123||1’15.017 (-0.106)||1’14.616 (-0.401)|
|8||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1’15.412||1’15.022 (-0.390)||1’14.696 (-0.326)|
|9||Lando Norris||McLaren||1’15.274||1’15.051 (-0.223)||1’14.814 (-0.237)|
|10||Carlos Sainz Jnr||McLaren||1’15.528||1’15.027 (-0.501)||1’14.911 (-0.116)|
|11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||1’15.407||1’15.061 (-0.346)|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Renault||1’15.352||1’15.201 (-0.151)|
|13||George Russell||Williams||1’15.760||1’15.323 (-0.437)|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1’15.571||1’15.385 (-0.186)|
|15||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||1’15.822||1’15.494 (-0.328)|
|18||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1’15.953|
|20||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1’16.208|
|Driver||Sector 1||Sector 2||Sector 3|
|Valtteri Bottas||23.432 (1)||25.464 (2)||24.699 (2)|
|Lewis Hamilton||23.488 (2)||25.411 (1)||24.683 (1)|
|Max Verstappen||23.750 (4)||25.477 (3)||24.949 (4)|
|Pierre Gasly||23.749 (3)||25.612 (4)||25.069 (7)|
|Daniel Ricciardo||23.800 (6)||25.783 (9)||24.937 (3)|
|Alexander Albon||23.825 (9)||25.616 (5)||25.084 (8)|
|Charles Leclerc||23.910 (11)||25.737 (7)||24.969 (5)|
|Daniil Kvyat||23.813 (8)||25.784 (10)||25.036 (6)|
|Lando Norris||23.790 (5)||25.647 (6)||25.225 (13)|
|Carlos Sainz Jnr||23.867 (10)||25.766 (8)||25.202 (11)|
|Sergio Perez||24.004 (12)||25.825 (11)||25.206 (12)|
|Esteban Ocon||24.028 (14)||25.934 (13)||25.182 (9)|
|George Russell||23.812 (7)||25.975 (14)||25.524 (18)|
|Sebastian Vettel||24.056 (15)||25.922 (12)||25.198 (10)|
|Lance Stroll||24.100 (16)||26.042 (15)||25.325 (14)|
|Romain Grosjean||24.260 (19)||26.097 (16)||25.508 (17)|
|Kevin Magnussen||24.281 (20)||26.105 (17)||25.459 (16)|
|Kimi Raikkonen||24.138 (17)||26.143 (18)||25.409 (15)|
|Nicholas Latifi||24.021 (13)||26.199 (19)||25.678 (20)|
|Antonio Giovinazzi||24.200 (18)||26.230 (20)||25.589 (19)|
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||Mercedes||299.5 (186.1)|
|2||Esteban Ocon||Renault||Renault||297.7 (185.0)||-1.8|
|3||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Mercedes||297.6 (184.9)||-1.9|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||Renault||296.7 (184.4)||-2.8|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||Ferrari||296.1 (184.0)||-3.4|
|6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||Mercedes||296.0 (183.9)||-3.5|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||Honda||295.8 (183.8)||-3.7|
|8||George Russell||Williams||Mercedes||295.8 (183.8)||-3.7|
|9||Romain Grosjean||Haas||Ferrari||295.6 (183.7)||-3.9|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||Honda||295.5 (183.6)||-4.0|
|11||Alexander Albon||Red Bull||Honda||294.9 (183.2)||-4.6|
|12||Carlos Sainz Jnr||McLaren||Renault||294.5 (183.0)||-5.0|
|13||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||Ferrari||293.6 (182.4)||-5.9|
|14||Lando Norris||McLaren||Renault||293.4 (182.3)||-6.1|
|15||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||Mercedes||293.2 (182.2)||-6.3|
|16||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||Honda||293.1 (182.1)||-6.4|
|17||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||Mercedes||293.0 (182.1)||-6.5|
|18||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||Ferrari||292.7 (181.9)||-6.8|
|19||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||Ferrari||292.2 (181.6)||-7.3|
|20||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||Ferrari||291.8 (181.3)||-7.7|
Over to you
Will Hamilton stop Bottas converting pole position into victory? Can Verstappen keep up with the Mercedes at Imola? And can his team mate claim a result which will save his place at Red Bull?
Share your views on the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in the comments.
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2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix
- An F1 marshal explains why Stroll’s Imola near-miss raises safety concerns
- McLaren must seek “smallest gains” in qualifying to fight for third
- Russell writes letter of apology to Williams team for Safety Car crash
- Pirelli begins probe into Verstappen tyre failure
- FIA “evaluating changes” after marshal near-miss Vettel and Grosjean called “dangerous”
16 comments on “Tough but possible? Drivers expect overtaking will be a challenge at Imola”
31st October 2020, 23:59
How long is the DRS section? That’s the key.
1st November 2020, 3:47
9-10 seconds I think…. when I tried to count it when watching Bottas’ pole lap. I think that is almost the same time as Portimao’s zone.
1st November 2020, 6:22
It starts from the timing line.
1st November 2020, 9:06
Yea, the drivers have 8-9 seconds use of the system, and that is similar to the time use of the drs in Portimao.
1st November 2020, 0:21
It’s ~700m with a ~600m lead in to it. Much better than the disgrace we had last week
1st November 2020, 0:31
I’d like to see either the Villeneuve chicane or Variante Alta removed to increase overtaking possibilites. Thoughts? They would need to re-profile the straight after Tamburello back to how it was pre circuit overhaul in 1995, as it now heads further to the right than it used to
Mr. Pug (@mr-pug)
1st November 2020, 1:50
If the straight between Tamburello and Villeneuve was angled slightly to the left then Villeneuve could become a long sweeper with decent runoff and crash angles. The problem with removing Alta is the speed of cars entering Rivazza. The wall there is perpendicular to the direction of traffic and has houses behind it preventing any modifications.
1st November 2020, 9:55
In 2001 there were some proposals where they would remove Variante Alta and change Rivazza into a chicane-ish section followed by a double left-hander, that would ensure enough runoff area.
1st November 2020, 3:31
The first chicane needs to go so they get a strong slipstream.
1st November 2020, 5:04
Go Lewis go
1st November 2020, 6:24
Will Hamilton stop Bottas from converting pole position into victory? – Yes.
Can Verstappen keep up with the Mercedes at Imola? – Not on pure pace.
And can his teammate claim a result which will save his place at Red Bull? – I doubt.
1st November 2020, 7:32
I think its incredible how close Lewis and Bottas have been in Qualifying this season. Litially 100ths and 1000ths each sector – I hope Bottas can manage his tyres better and run an error free race – if he survives the first corner! If Lewis pips him to the first corner he will be be so vulnerable to Max. So Bottas will have to hope Lewis will be busy defending Max instead….
Russell is incredible 7th in the first sector, 14th in the middle sector – were his tyres gone by the third? Could better out lap tyre management elevated him in Q3? Or a little further up the grid?
F1 in Figures (@f1infigures)
1st November 2020, 10:24
Interestingly, he was still faster than Latifi in the third sector, so it may be set-up related. Or maybe Latifi had the same tire issue, who knows.
1st November 2020, 10:11
Meh, main straight with DRS… Booring.
Everyhere else however will be mighty impressive. I am driving the track several hours per day last two days. Just amazing the challange over all the bumps and slopes.
It used to be my favourite track for years. I cannot see why overtaking would be impossible, but for sure inbetween gravel and grass, there is potential for proper racing.
1st November 2020, 10:47
I don’t quite understand Mahnussen’s comment. I always liked Singapore, overtaking is possible, but the walls are close, thus keeping the drivers accountable.
1st November 2020, 11:54
All this talk of overtaking not possible is just so we hail them as heroes when they do. As in, “O Lewis, what a driver! Making passes count even where it’s impossible!”
Comments are closed.