The second race of the 2021 Formula One season is kicking off in just 2 days at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
This year’s circuit features a longer DRS zone, so fans can expect more overtaking action this time out.
Imola also has the highest pit-time loss of the season at around 28 seconds, so this pushes teams to opt for a one-stop strategy and makes any unplanned pit-stops detrimental to lap times.
Let’s see what some of the drivers have to say ahead of this weekend’s on-track battle:
“Imola is a fantastic circuit; it’s very fast and you really need to be committed.
“It also has a lot of character that the newer tracks sometimes lack, and you feel that when you’re bouncing over the kerbs. I’m very happy that the track is back on the calendar this season.
“I made what is probably the biggest mistake of my career at Imola in 2020 when crashing under the safety car. It’s a track where, if you make a mistake, you’re out.
“But that’s what racing should be about! I’ll look to try and rectify my mistake from last year with a good result this weekend.
“I’m excited to hit the track at Imola; it was a circuit that seemed to suit our car quite well last year and I had one of my best results of the season in the race.
“I’m curious to see how the car is going to perform there, especially after a weekend of inconsistent conditions in Bahrain with the wind.
“Having all three practice sessions will be useful, as last year we only had the one, so we’ll be able to build the weekend from there and hopefully we can be competitive and have a good race.
“We are confident we can be in the middle of the fight for points in Imola as well, but we are under no illusions it is going to be easy.
“We saw in Bahrain that even a good weekend doesn’t mean a top ten finish, so we know we have to keep pushing to improve everything we do from Thursday to Sunday: the difference between finishing just behind the top teams and outside of the top ten will be very small.
“Hopefully we can do our homework, have a good weekend and we get to be in that first group: we know what is in our control and what isn’t, so we just have to make sure we perform as we know we can.”
“What we saw in Bahrain gave us a big confidence boost and we are looking forward to seeing how competitive we can be in Imola.
“We know we can be in the fight, but we also know we need to deliver a flawless weekend to maximise our returns: the margins are very small in the midfield, especially in qualifying, and every little detail makes a difference.
“I would love to open my scoring tally in Imola, on home soil: having three home races last season didn’t spoil me, it’s always a special feeling to race at home and this weekend will be no different.”
“The team has worked hard since the first race, as there are still areas where we can improve, even if we are clearly on the pace at the moment.
“But this early in the season, we can expect everyone to make progress as they get to understand their cars better and how to optimise them.
“So, we have to work hard to keep moving forward. Honestly, I can’t wait to go racing again as this three-week break has seemed quite long.
“From now on, the races come one after the other and I’m keen to see what results we can get.”
“I will start the weekend gradually building up my pace. That will be the key because you don’t want to make a mistake in FP1 which will make you lose your confidence.
“Because we have driven there before the season, as a team we can just focus on car set-up and try and maximise that advantage and hopefully we can have a good result.
“It’s important as it is a home race for the team and even for me, it feels like home.”
“Obviously, Imola is known for a lot of kerb riding. You have the two corners up in the chicane where you have to take a lot of kerb.
“We have some long corners which follow into long straights. Everything’s basically very twisted. In all the junior categories that I’ve raced there, it was always very fun, and a track I enjoyed driving. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a lot better in a Formula 1 car.
“It’s amazing to drive a Formula 1 car, so to do that on a super cool track will be even more special. I’m definitely looking forward to it.
“Regarding preparation, I’ve been speaking through it all with the team and going through the notes I made there when I was young.”
“For me personally it was very important to use these two weeks to go away and reflect back on the weekend to see the things I need to improve – and obviously there’s a lot of things being a rookie.
“Also, it was very nice to go back home and see my family. Knowing there’s a very busy schedule ahead during the year, these two weeks were very important.”
“It’s great to be back at Imola again this season. As always, we’ll be aiming to maximise the time on-track to get the most out of the car in preparation for qualifying and the race.
“Track position is important in Imola with limited chances for overtakes.
“Turn One will be the best opportunity to make a pass, and it could be tricky elsewhere with the track being so narrow. We’ll be pushing to make the most of the weekend and score some good points.”
“Imola’s up next and we’re going to give it plenty. It’s an iconic old-school track with a fast and flowing layout that provides little room for error.
“I’m really excited to be heading back there after last year’s race where I finished on the podium.
“I’m definitely planning on bringing that experience from last year to help the team this weekend and fight for those points.”
“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.”
“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.”
Lights out at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix is scheduled for 2:00 pm Irish time.