Imola (dpa) – Formula 1 makes its European debut. After Australia and before the USA, Italy is announced. The home race par excellence for Ferrari.
For the third time after a long break, the premier class of motorsport will be competing at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. And the big favorite is Charles Leclerc and drives for Ferrari.
How big is Ferrari’s home field advantage?
In terms of mood, the Scuderia should get a boost. It’s been a long time since Ferrari started the race in Italy as the clear favourite. It’s been a long time since the competition had to timidly admit that the brand from Maranello, just 90 kilometers away, is the benchmark. Almost 100,000 Tifosi are expected, it will be red in Imola, where Ferrari last celebrated a home win in 2006 with Michael Schumacher. The fans’ expectations are huge, but after years of weakness and disappointment, Ferrari drivers are used to pressure. If everything goes according to plan, it can be a weekend of enjoyment for the Scuderia, especially since more than the otherwise maximum 26 points per driver beckon.
What’s different this time than usual?
One of the three planned sprint races will be held in Imola. It’s time on Saturday. Unlike last year, this time there are points for the first eight drivers (8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1). Otherwise there was only an extra point for the trio from the podium (3-2-1). It also means that there will only be one training session on Friday before qualifying starts in the early evening.
What can Red Bull and Mercedes do?
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Both teams primarily have a weight problem with their cars. Slimming down is the order of the day. Problem: The so-called updates for the cars can only be tested a little in just one free practice session, and the adjustment also becomes a race against time. In addition – according to forecasts – changing conditions with rain on Friday and partly cloudy on Saturday and possible thunderstorms on Sunday. But: The Ferrari pursuers around the defending champion Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, who has already been eliminated twice due to defects, and record world champion Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes have to take risks. Otherwise the Scuderia will rush even further. After three races, Leclerc is 71 points ahead of Hamilton’s new teammate George Russell, the superstar for his part is sixth 43 points behind, Verstappen seventh 46.
What to expect from Vettel and Schumacher?
It can hardly be worse for Sebastian Vettel than last time in Melbourne. “Imola is a real test for driver and car, and that’s how a Formula 1 circuit should be,” he says. However, the four-time world champion cannot expect too much from his new Aston Martin, and after his own Corona break in the first two races, Vettel does not have much more time to get used to. Mick Schumacher’s Haas works better. Eleventh place in the first race, 13th in the third. In between, he had not been able to drive after his severe qualifying accident in Saudi Arabia. In Imola he should now attack the points.
What’s next after Imola?
Stressful! If Formula 1 usually completed its European debut in Barcelona, it also continued in Europe. For the premiere in Miami, however, the entourage will make another detour overseas for the race on May 8th in Miami. Two weeks later, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will be driven before the classic in Monaco, Leclerc’s home, is due.