Emilia Romagna GP: Preview - Aston Martin


Following a three-week break, the FIA Formula One World Championship bursts back into life at Italy's historic Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the venue for round two of the 2021 series.

Extensively re-profiled after a lengthy stint hosting the San Marino Grand Prix, the track is a sparkling blend of the old and new: sweeping, high-speed corners hemmed in by unyielding concrete barriers and modern pit and paddock facilities constructed in the late 2000s. In short, it's a place that rewards commitment.

Lance Stroll: "Imola was such a great challenge last year. It's an incredibly fast circuit with so little run-off - the balance between risk and reward is immense, so it's incredibly satisfying when you get it right. As a team, I think we all wanted more last time out in Bahrain, so we're all treating Imola as a fresh opportunity. We've seen that there's a bunch of teams that are all extremely closely matched - so getting out of the blocks cleanly and running smoothly in every session will be vital if we want to make a difference."

Sebastian Vettel: "I'm excited to get going this weekend. It's been good to have that little bit of an extra gap between these first two races - this year's calendar won't always be so forgiving - but that just gave us an extra opportunity to look at the data and understand where we need to improve the AMR21. As a track, Imola is a very different challenge to Bahrain: it's a track that you can really attack, so I'm looking forward to it."

The second race of a new season, on a largely unproven racetrack, promises spectacle and unpredictability. Our strategy engineers have analysed historic data and recent car performance to predict the key factors that could determine the result on Sunday, presented here in partnership with our Title Partner Cognizant.

• Set-up: the track has a wide range of slow, medium and high-speed corners, but the removal of the old pit-straight chicane tempts teams into reducing drag for that blast from Rivazza all the way to Tamburello, which in turn hurts cornering performance. Like Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, it's a high-speed track with minimal run-off.

• Overtaking. It's not easy. In fact, only Singapore and Monaco often a greater passing challenge. Looking at last year's race, and discounting the first lap and Safety Car restart, there were just six overtakes - and five of those required DRS. This year, Formula One has announced a longer DRS zone, so expect more overtakes this time out.

• Imola has the highest pit-time loss of the season. It takes around 28 seconds to box and return to the racetrack. That pushes teams towards a conventional one-stop strategy and makes any unplanned pit-stops particularly costly.

• Predicting Safety Cars is tricky due to the lack of relevant historical data (the race was last conventionally run in 2006). Last year, there was one Safety Car appearance and a single Virtual Safety Car period, but the lack of run-off and trackside gravel traps means there's always potential for caution periods - potentially turning the race on its head.

A lap of Imola needs constant vigilance: it's fast and unforgiving, requires maximum commitment from a driver battling within a narrow set-up window, and with a car constantly deploying or harvesting energy. Our official Cyber Security Partner SentinelOne presents the key technical facts and stats behind a single lap of the track.

It's 440m from pole position to the first braking point at the Turn-Two chicane - that's a relatively average distance across the season, so doesn't offer much opportunity for slipstreaming opportunities into the braking zone.

Expect top speeds of around 325km/h (200mph) on that run between Rivazza and the Tamburello chicane. The corner itself is taken in fourth gear, at around 170km/h (105mph).

The lap is dominated by high-speed corners - the Tamburello, Villeneuve and Alta 'chicanes' require both precision and commitment. The fastest corner on the track is Piratella, a daunting, sixth-gear downhill left-hander taken at 220km/h (135mph).

Imola is one of seven anti-clockwise tracks on the 2021 calendar. The resulting high incidence of left-handers places additional stress on the front-right tyre. Pirelli brings its C2, C3 and C4 tyres to Imola - the same as Bahrain.

The MGU-K - the motor-generator unit that gathers energy under braking - is almost constantly busy either harvesting or deploying energy around a lap of Imola. In fact, only Monza is more intensive.

80BC: The sleepy town of Imola has long been associated with speed. It hosted races as far back as 80BC, when the Romans competed at the Cornelii Forum - an amphitheatre for gladiatorial chariot racing!

5: The lowest number of cars to finish a Grand Prix at Imola. The first occurrence was in 1982, due to a political dispute that saw only 14 cars start. History repeated in 1985, when five cars again made the finish, many running short of fuel in the closing laps. Eventual winner Alain Prost was so low on fuel that he was later disqualified because his car was underweight.

1963: Year of the first Imola Grand Prix - a non-championship event run to Formula One rules. It was dominated by Jim Clark in his Lotus-Climax, who lapped all but one of the 13 starters.

28: The number of times the circuit has hosted a Formula One World Championship Grand Prix. Its first race was in 1980, standing in for Monza as the venue for that year's Italian GP.

7: Imola is one of seven anti-clockwise circuits on the 2021 calendar. The others are Abu Dhabi, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the USA.

5G: Turn Nine (Piratella) is the fastest and most thrilling corner on the circuit. Drivers pull lateral loads of 5G through that particular corner. With very little run-off...

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Published: 13/04/2021
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