Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Imola, 2021

Hamilton: Mercedes making gains in Imola as ‘the track has come more in our direction’

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton thinks Mercedes’ practice-topping pace at Imola is as much about the circuit better suiting its car as it is gains made since Bahrain.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was quickest in qualifying for the first round of the season in Bahrain, though Hamilton won the race. The world champion predicted “it’s going to take everything and more” to beat Red Bull again at Imola.

However Hamilton was buoyed by Mercedes’ apparent progress on the first day of running for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. “The team definitely worked really hard to try to understand what happened in the last race where we were weak and see if we can try to tweak the car a little bit better with set-up,” he said. “But I think the track has also come a little bit more in our direction.

“We started off with a really good set-up, and just small tweaks here and there, but nothing major, no major issues. So far, good pace for us.”

Cooler temperatures in Italy may also have worked in Mercedes’ favour, Hamilton added: “It’s way better. When it’s this cool, I mean it’s obviously a nice day, but the last place we were at obviously in Bahrain it’s so warm so when you go out, already the temperatures are going up.

“The [tyres] are overheating throughout from entry to middle to the exit of each corner. That’s why here you’re kind of in a nice, sweet spot in temperature, so it’s not so bad.”

The track conditions improved between the two practice sessions, with only one support race session occurring between those to add more rubber to the track surface.

“It’s quite bumpy here, but good grip,” said Hamilton. “And the tyres are working really well here.”

Mercedes enjoy a pace advantage of 0.85 seconds over the fastest Red Bull after Friday’s running. But Hamilton isn’t taking that at face value as Verstappen was sidelined with a suspected driveshaft during second practice.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the best from the Red Bulls yet,” said Hamilton. “They look like they’ve had quite messy sessions with traffic and that. So it will be interesting to see tomorrow just how quick they are.”

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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8 comments on “Hamilton: Mercedes making gains in Imola as ‘the track has come more in our direction’”

  1. Mercedes looks well ahead of redbull

  2. I was always suspicious of everyone saying Red Bull were infront based solely off Bahrain. It’s hardly a representative circuit.

    That being said it’s just practice so let’s see what Red Bull can claw back by Q3 when it matters.

    1. Yeah, Mercedes hasn’t been that great at Bahrain even last year @skipgamer. And the temperatures etc seem more in Mercedes’ favour.

      Off course it is just practice, and a practice where Max never got to set a strong lap since his car broke and Perez was also on the backfoot after that Q1 incident. I expect both to be there or thereabouts come qualifying and the race.

    2. Based on Bahrain we know the Mercedes has a weaker rear end, which gives me the impression Red Bull have the advantage on rear limited circuits, and Mercedes will have the advantage on front limited circuits. Either way, the entire season is going to be tight, so I don’t expect a washout at any track, really.

    3. I think I have been saying this since testing, the season feels like an extension of 2020 despite all changes. Bahrain is an alright track for RB and Imola is a doddle for these cars ends up being a power track.

  3. I thought Mercedes were slow this year, low rake and all.

    Seems like low temperatures brought them back in to their performance window.

    This is the kind of track, where cars are flowing at natural pace, not a lot of slow stuff where high rake is so good. Presto Mercedes is back in the game.

    It is kinda like Spa + excellent ability to ride them kerbs.

    Then again Verstappen might still put it on pole.

  4. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    16th April 2021, 18:48

    Key piece of info from Andrew Shovlin.

    “We have brought a few aerodynamic upgrades which seem to be working well”

    I’ll say pole will be a few thousandths between the Mercs and Max.

  5. Yadayadayada… Mercedes on top again

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