After a LONG gap from the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, Formula 1 is back! The Bahrain GP was a FANTASTIC race, and we can’t wait to see what Round 2 of the season holds! In this post, we’re going to refer to this race as the Imola GP. Formula 1 Pirelli Gran Premio Del Made In Italy E Dell’emilia Romagna 2021. That’s the real name of this race. In English, it is the Formula 1 Pirelli Made In Italy and Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. But to make it shorter and easier to understand most people call it the Imola GP.
The Autodrome Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari hosts this race, as it did last year. Since the COVID-19 pandemic made it unsafe to race in many countries, F1 had to race at new countries and new circuits all over the world. 3 of the 2020 races were in Italy, and one of those races was at Imola. Imola has hosted F1 races for many years in the past, under the name of the San Marino Grand Prix. The San Marino GP first entered F1 in 1981, but it left the sport in 2006, to make room for the Belgian Grand Prix.
Last year, Imola returned to Formula 1, and it became an iconic and emotional race. There was plenty of action with crashes, Safety Cars, and plenty of side-by-side racing. Daniel Ricciardo FINALLY got a podium with Renault, and Mercedes became 7-time Constructors’ World Champions. It. Was. Incredible. As the Vietnam and Chinese Grands Prix are not going to be in the 2021 calendar, Imola and Portugal came on the calendar to replace them. And after an exciting 2021 season opener, and after decades of history at Imola, we’ve arrived at the 2021 Imola GP, and here are the Top Things To Watch For.
The Hamilton-Verstappen and Mercedes-Red Bull Battle Continues At The Imola GP
Obviously, first on this list is this tantalisingly close battle between Mercedes and Red Bull, and Hamilton and Verstappen in particular. At the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, Max Verstappen took first in all 3 practice sessions and took pole in qualifying. In the race, however, there were 2 reasons that Hamilton. First Mercedes went for a strategy where they undercut Red Bull (pit earlier than Red Bull) for both of the pitstops. Then Hamilton held off Verstappen to take the win. The undercut part was some smart strategising from Mercedes, but the 2nd part was all about Hamilton’s driving. Verstappen actually overtook Hamilton, but Verstappen made a mistake and went off track when he was overtaking Hamilton, so he had to give the lead back to the Mercedes.
And after that, Hamilton started pushing and wringing the pace out of his tires, while Verstappen just sat behind. Verstappen didn’t expect that he would have to overtake Hamilton twice, so Verstappen had already taken the life out of his tires. In the end, Hamilton took a surprise victory and really showed his mettle. But the Bahrain GP proved that the fight is on for 2021. Mercedes won’t be able to win their 8th title as easily as they won their 7th, and the same goes for Hamilton in the drivers’ fight.
Some may say that Sergio Perez only finished in 5th in Bahrain, which means Mercedes already have a noticeable lead in the standings. But based on his overtaking moves and how he went from a pitlane start to finishing 5th, I think that all that Checo needs is some better luck and a good qualifying. Then he can challenge for podiums and for wins, especially because he’s in a Red Bull. And data clearly shows that Red Bull have a better qualifying pace than Mercedes, so things might be even better than last time for Red Bull.
However, Red Bull were clearly faster in the medium and slow speed parts of the Bahrain International Circuit. Imola is full of high-speed corners, which can be an advantage for Mercedes. They were VERY dominant at Imola last year, and had a clear pace advantage. Although that isn’t the most accurate representation of their 2021 pace, it certainly gives them hope for this year. Another factor is that there was a 3-week gap from Bahrain to Imola. After pre-season testing, Mercedes used the 2-week gap to make some serious gains. There’s no telling whether they’ll do the same for the Imola GP.
All we can really do is wait and watch to find out how this exciting battle unfolds. It’s not exactly a championship battle yet; it’s very early in the season. But it’s a battle you don’t want to miss! Also, in 2021, Mercedes and Red Bull aren’t the only teams in the mix. In 2021, the field is closer than ever, meaning that there is no front field anymore, because the midfield have bridged the gap between the midfield and the front of the field.
The Field Is Closer Than Ever; The Midfield Has Caught Up
2021 is going to be the most exciting year of Formula 1 for a LONG time. The new aerodynamic regulation changes (the most major of the 2021 regulation changes) have brought the field MUCH closer together than it was in 2020. In 2020, if a driver was a second slower than the faster driver, they would pretty much have a secure spot in the Top 10 positions of the session. In 2021, if a driver is a second slower than the leader, they would be in the Bottom 5 positions. THAT’S how close F1 is in 2021, and that’s exactly what we needed. That’s exactly what the FIA were aiming for when they made the aero regulation changes.
Although the Bahrain GP was the first race of the season, it certainly got our hopes up for an exciting season ahead of us. And at the Imola GP, we’re all hoping that the field stays as close as it was; if it doesn’t get closer. Along with the overall field being closer, teams like McLaren and possibly Ferrari and AlphaTauri might’ve closed the gap from the midfield to the front of the field. Many believe that this has happened based on the great performance from Charles Leclerc and the McLaren drivers. After looking at qualifying and practice results, and the race results, it definitely looks like a promising theory.
So definitely expect some of the runners that were previously in the midfield to challenge for podiums this year. Hopefully, one or two of them might even secure race wins. It’s still very early on in the season, but things are definitely looking promising in terms of the possibility that Mercedes and Red Bull won’t be as far ahead of the others as they were last year.
Emotions Will Be Running High For Everyone
The San Marino GP is home to many iconic moments in Formula 1, some of them good, but most of them bad. The Tamburello and Villeneuve corners saw many massive crashes. They were high-speed corners, which made them very dangerous. Gerhard Berger crashed heavily at Tamburello in 1989 when he went straight on into the barrier, where he was knocked unconscious and covered in fuel before his car burst into flames. Berger was lucky to survive.
In 1994, Roland Ratzenberger crashed at Villeneuve corner at qualifying. He had no front wing, meaning he had no steering and he crashed at high speed. He suffered a fracture to his skull and became the first driver to perish at the San Marino GP.
But worse than that Ayrton Senna, one of the greatest drivers to ever race in Formula 1, crashed too. In the race, he went straight on at Tamburello because of a mechanical failure and hit the barrier at 225 kph. He died, and it became one of the most fateful days in F1 history. The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix is unforgettable.
There is a statue of Ayrton Senna, just beyond the barrier at Tamburello. Going to Imola is incredibly emotional for the F1 world, and it will always be that way. The Tamburello and Villeneuve corners are now chicanes, making it much safer and low speed.
Ayrton Senna was a true legend. He inspired a countless number of people all over the world, including the drivers racing in F1 right now. He had such unbelievable talent, which brought him 3 Drivers’ titles, and could’ve brought him more. Senna has his very own era of Formula 1, but that era ended with his life. 34 is an incredibly young age to die, and it’s extremely emotional for F1 to race at the circuit where Ayrton Senna died.
“Being back in the place where he lost his life is always a bit imposing, a bit emotional for every Formula 1 driver because we know here we lost probably the most special talent that there was in Formula 1 history,” said Carlos Sainz. It’s a pure truth; it’s always going to be imposing and very emotional for an F1 driver to race at Imola.
So we’ve gone through exactly what to watch out for at the Imola GP. Or as the name goes, the 2021 Made In Italy and Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. After a FABULOUS Round 1 at Bahrain, we can’t wait to see how Round 2 unfolds and how the 2021 season turns out. Stay safe, and stay on the lookout for new posts!