Formula 1 returns to the legendary Imola circuit this weekend for the second Grand Prix of the 2021 season. Fans were treated to a decent show last year and expectations are high following the opening race in Bahrain. So, what should we all be looking out for this time around? Here’s what to watch out for at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Can Max Bounce Back in Imola?
Love him or hate him, Max Verstappen is easily one of the best drivers on the grid. The Dutchman got so close to winning in Bahrain that it’s surely going to have made him even more determined to win in Imola. But this time, it’s about more than just beating Hamilton and Mercedes.
When Formula 1 went to Imola last year, Verstappen was forced to retire from the race with just thirteen laps to go due to a puncture causing him to spin off the track. There’s unfinished business then between Max and Imola. But if anyone can do it, surely it’s Max…
2020 was close. Can Russell Score at Imola in 2021?
George Russell is another driver who has a score to settle with Imola. On the cusp of getting his first points in Formula 1 last year at this race, he crashed behind the safety car and that was that.
With Williams appearing to have made some improvements since then, is it possible for George to get points here? The sceptics will say no but I think there’s every chance. With a bit of luck and some crazy race conditions, George may be able to capitalise this time. We’d all love to see it so keep an eye out.
Can Ricciardo get on the podium again?
The Honey Badger managed to get last year’s Renault (this year’s Alpine) onto the podium at Imola last year. Now with McLaren and after a strong showing from both cars in Bahrain, another podium must be on the Aussie’s mind.
A fierce racer with great overtaking skills, you can’t rule this out from happening. Ricciardo is hungry to get F1 points and podiums for McLaren–the team that he sees as being the one that he can win the World Championship with. So where better to start getting on the podium than Imola?
What can the 2021 Ferrari do at Imola?
Ferrari showed a definitive improvement in Bahrain. Not difficult after their 2020 season. Both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc drove solid races and got a decent haul of points of the team.
Leclerc finished fifth in Imola last year with Sainz in seventh–albeit in a McLaren. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility to believe that both drivers could finish inside the top ten on Sunday if things go their way. With teams like Alpine and Aston Martin appearing to struggle at the moment, it’s the perfect time for Ferrari to mount their comeback.
Can anyone beat Hamilton?
That’s the million-dollar question. And the answer is probably no. Unless you’re Max Verstappen. But short of the Dutch driver giving us another close fight with the seven-time world champion, it’s really Hamilton’s race to lose.
Bottas finished five seconds behind him last year at Imola and was nowhere near his teammate last time out in Bahrain.
What about Sergio Perez? An outside option perhaps. Especially as he’s still getting to grips with the Red Bull car. But after a superb drive in Bahrain, Perez might just be the wild card we need this time out. It would certainly spice things up a bit.