Formula 1 will get its first official trial of a two-day race weekend at this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola. 

A first glimpse of what a condensed weekend format could look like was provided in unplanned fashion at the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring earlier this month, when Friday’s two practice sessions were abandoned due to fog. 

Many drivers were all for a slimmed-down schedule and they will get a first proper crack at a shortened weekend when F1 returns to Imola for the first time since it held the 2006 San Marino Grand Prix. 

The teams will only have one 90-minute practice to prepare for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix ahead of qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday. 

Kimi Raikkonen is the only driver in the current field to have raced at Imola in F1, although the circuit has been altered since it last held a grand prix.

Imola will present F1 with its latest in a series of ‘unknown’ tracks during a leg of the season that was heavily disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, with the likes of Mugello, the Nurburgring, Portimao and Istanbul stepping in to replace cancelled rounds in Asia and the United States. 

A compacted schedule will provide a unique challenge for the teams and drivers and will be fascinating to watch unfold with the potential for added excitement and intrigue as F1 weighs up more permanent format changes in the future. 

Last chance saloon for Albon?

All eyes will once again be on the performance of the under-fire Alex Albon, who appears to be running out of time to secure his position at Red Bull for 2021. 

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said at the Portuguese GP that Albon needed to stamp his claim for the seat with strong performances at Portimao and this weekend’s race at Imola, but the Thai produced another disappointing display in Portugal as he slumped to an underwhelming 12th in the race.

With Red Bull weighing up whether to replace Albon with the likes of Sergio Perez or Nico Hulkenberg to partner Max Verstappen, now is the time for Albon to put in a comprehensive performance to prove he deserves another season at F1’s current second-best team. 

Despite continued backing from Red Bull’s top brass, another weekend like at the Algarve circuit would surely be disastrous for Albon’s chances of retaining his place. Now is the time to step up to the plate. 

OPINION: Why Sergio Perez is the solution to Red Bull's F1 driver dilemma

Mercedes set for magnificent seven 

After Lewis Hamilton broke the record for most grand prix wins with his 92nd victory last time out in Portugal to edge ever closer to his seventh world championship crown, Mercedes is set to win the constructors’ title at Imola. 

A seventh consecutive constructors’ championship would surpass Ferrari’s previous record of six straight titles between 1999 and 2004 and see Mercedes move out in the clear with a new unprecedented benchmark. 

Hamilton led home teammate Valtteri Bottas for Mercedes’ fourth 1-2 finish of the 2020 campaign. 

Mercedes leads Red Bull by 209 points in the teams’ standings with 220 still to play for and requires a 176-point advantage over its nearest rival to seal the title. 

This means that the seemingly inevitable prospect of a fourth-place finish for either one of its cars will be sufficient to wrap up the championship at Imola. 

Despite the likelihood of the achievement occurring at the next race, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has stressed that the German manufacturer is refusing to allow for any sense of entitlement to creep in ahead of a potentially historic weekend. 

“Everything we do from now on will be important for next year, and also setting the pace for the 2022 regulations,” he explained. 

"So it's an extremely challenging situation that I take contentment in, trying to help structure our capability in a way that we can stay where we are, whilst obviously staying humble and not allowing one millimetre of sense of entitlement.

"Overall, I enjoy the task that is in front of us.”

When is the Emilia Romagna GP on TV? 

Saturday October 31 

Free Practice: 09:00am-10:30am GMT (10:00-11:30 local)
Qualifying: 1:00pm-2:00pm GMT (2:00pm-3:00pm local) 

Sunday November 1 

Race: 12:10pm GMT (1:10pm local) 

Emila Romagna GP tyre allocation 

For the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, Pirelli is bringing the C2 (Hard), C3 (Medium) and C4 (Soft) compounds. 

For all of the races in the revised 2020 season, each driver will have an allocation of eight sets of the red-walled Softs, three sets of the yellow-walled Mediums, and two sets of the white-walled Hards.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...