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Imola is a circuit that is etched into Formula One history and while this is the first time that the championship has returned to the Emilia Romagna region since 2006, there are memories both fond and haunting. Tune in to The Roar from 11 pm AEDT for live blog coverage of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix marks the third visit to Italy for the 2020 world championship, but also saw the trialling of a two-day format whereby only a single 90-minute practice session is held before qualifying.
An interesting challenge for all but Kimi Räikkönen, who is the only current driver to have raced in 2006 San Marino Grand Prix. 63 laps of the 4.9 km circuit combine high-speed corners such as Tamburello with slow, undulating complexes such as Acque Minerali.
Overtaking has been traditionally limited at this track and even with DRS available on the pit-straight, not much passing is expected.
With no form guide to base any predictions off for Imola, the safe money would have to be on championship leaders Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton, who now holds the all-time wins record in Formula One, will continue to edge towards that seventh world championship.
Valtteri Bottas will start the race from the pole, eclipsing his teammate Hamilton in qualifying by just under a tenth of a second. Lining up behind on the second row of the grid is Max Verstappen, who’ll be joined by Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri.
Both Hamilton and Bottas will start the race on the medium tyre once again, as will Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. As far as tyre wear is concerned, a standard one-stop race beckons with minimal wear on the Pirellis.
Gasly’s best qualifying of the season in his team’s home race will certainly give the Frenchman – who’ll stay at AlphaTauri in 2021 – the upper hand in battling midfield rivals such as Daniel Ricciardo and Leclerc.
The drums will be beating for Alexander Albon once again after qualifying sixth and behind the sister AlphaTauri team. Not being close enough to Verstappen has stopped Red Bull exploring strategic options to try and beat Mercedes.
Six points still separate the battle for third in the constructor’s championship, which has been intriguing to follow. The leaders of that trio in Racing Point will start outside the top ten on this occasion.
With another Mercedes masterclass on the cards, can it be Bottas to put his name ahead of Hamilton in Imola winner’s book? Tune in from 11 pm AEDT for live blog coverage of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Lights out: 11:10 pm (AEDT)
Venue: Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Italy
TV: Fox Sports
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), 2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 4. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), 5. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), 6. Alexander Albon (Red Bull), 7. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), 8. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri), 9. Lando Norris (McLaren), 10. Carlos Sainz (McLaren), 11. Sergio Perez (Racing Point), 12. Esteban Ocon (Renault), 13. George Russell (Williams), 14. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), 15. Lance Stroll (Racing Point), 16. Romain Grosjean (Haas), 17. Kevin Magnussen (Haas), 18. Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo), 19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams), 20. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)