Race starts at 3 pm in Italy/9 pm in Malaysia
Formula 1 returns to Europe this weekend after the opening round in Bahrain last month, a departure from the usual season-opening venue in Australia. Tightened entry procedures forced the organisers to switch to the Middle East and the Australian round will be run towards the end of the year when, hopefully, the pandemic will have eased.
For the second round of the 2021 Formula 1 championship, the race is at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, more popularly referred to as the Imola Circuit as it is near the city of Imola in Italy. It was used for Round 13 last year, the first time in 14 years. The event is again called the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Last year, when the race was run at Imola, the teams had no recent data since the last race was run in 2006 when the cars and tyres were different and so were the conditions at the 68-year old track. The Imola circuit is a highly technical one, with a wide range of corners and it’s narrow and bumpy, as the older tracks tend to be. But at least there is now data from the race last year, which will help in setting up the cars.
“We all enjoyed returning to Imola in 2020, after a 14-year gap, and it was made more special by the fact we secured our seventh Constructors’ championship on that weekend. It’s quite a narrow track, which makes overtaking more difficult, but this puts more focus on strategy and makes qualifying even more crucial,” said Toto Wolff, the head of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Team.
As for the tyres, Pirelli is bringing the same C2-C3-C4 compounds from the middle of their range as last year. However, the warmer temperatures [compared to last year] and changes in tyre construction and downforce levels also create new conditions this weekend.
The performance gaps between all three compounds are different to initial estimates. The gap between hard and medium is smaller than expected because the hard, although requiring a longer warm-up time, is then able to work well and provide a good level of grip. Between the soft and the medium, the gap is instead bigger.
The drivers therefore face a different challenge from Bahrain, and securing good positions as far in front on the grid as possible have been vital. While the results of the first round have Mercedes-AMG at the top, it’s still early in the championship and how the season will run will be clearer after this weekend’s race.
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